Poison Statistics

The Poison Control Center closely monitors the calls received each year, tracking the volume, reasons for exposure, top substances involved in poisonings and poison-associated fatalities. This data helps us identify poisoning trends and risks to the public, knowledge that informs community education, awareness and treatment efforts.

The following data is based on calls to the Poison Control Center from 2015.

Calls to the Poison Control Center

The Poison Control Center receives thousands of calls each year from residents in Eastern Pennsylvania, the greater Philadelphia area and Delaware.

In 2016, the Poison Control Center received nearly 92,000 calls about poison concerns from the public. The charts below detail the breakdown of these calls.

Poison Control Center Call Volume by Call Type

Total: 64,741

 
Human Exposures (55,596 cases)
 
Information Calls (8,163 cases)
 
Animal Exposures (863 cases)
 
Other* (119 cases)

*Confirmed Non-Exposures

 

The number of calls, by call type, received by the Poison Control Center in 2015.

 

Poison Control Center call volume by location

The following tables show the geographic breakdown of calls to the Poison Control Center in 2015, by state and county.

Pennsylvania (eastern counties)
County
No.
Berks
2,328
Bucks
3,872
Carbon
252
Chester
3,088
Columbia
284
Dauphin
1,525
Delaware
4,149
Lackawanna
1,330
Lancaster
2,827
Lebanon
705
Lehigh
1,690
Luzerne
1,391
Monroe
865
Montgomery
5,293
Northampton
1,402
Northumberland
399
Philadelphia
12,058
Schuylkill
618
Susquehanna
147
Wayne
277
Wyoming
149
York
2,344
PA Other
2,441
(not specified)
2,196

 

 

Delaware
County
No.
Kent
1,059
New Castle
3,577
Sussex
1,198
(not specified)
104

 

 

Poison exposure statistics

The Poison Control Center works to reduce the number of injuries and deaths associated with poison exposures. In order to achieve this goal and effectively educate the public on poisoning prevention and awareness, it is critical for our toxicology experts to identify new toxic threats and track poisoning epidemics.

We collect this data as part of a national, real-time surveillance system. Tracking this information helps us understand the common causes of poison exposures in both children and adults, and why these exposures happen, so that we can focus our efforts on prevention.

Reasons for exposure

Humans are exposed to poison for a variety of reasons. While some exposures are intentional, the majority of poisonings are unintentional, and can be caused by a variety of substances.

Human Poison Exposures by Reason

Total: 55,714

 
Unintentional (46,175)
 
Intentional (7,738)
 
Adverse Reaction (1,179)
 
Other (383)
 
Unknown (239)

 

 

Reasons for human poison exposures in 2015, calculated by number and type of calls that came in to the Poison Control Center.

 

 

Many of the unintentional exposures involve children under 6 years of age. Young kids like to explore their environment and imitate adult behaviors, which is why it’s important to keep medications and chemicals locked up tight, out of sight and out of reach of kids.

Top substances involved in poisoning exposures

Each year, the Poison Control Center documents the substances involved in poisoning exposures and collects this data. Knowing what substances are causing the most poisonings in both children and adults helps us identify new threats, improve our public education and tailor the poison-specific information we provide to healthcare professionals and public health agencies.

The following tables compare the most common substances involved in poison exposures in kids versus adults based on calls to the Poison Control Center in 2015.

Top 5 Substances in Kids <5 years of Age
Cosmetics/personal care products4,356
Cleaning substances (household)3,062
Pain Medications2,617
Foreign bodies/toys/miscellaneous2,103
Topical Medications1,500

 

Top 5 Substances in Adults >20 years of Age
Pain Medications2,834
Sedative/Hypnotics/Antipsychotics2,538
Antidepressants1,730
Cleaning substances (household)1,617
Antimicrobials1,505

 

Drug exposures

The heroin epidemic is impacting millions of Americans each day. The number of heroin-related calls that the Poison Control Center has received has been steadily increasing over the past 5 years.

Heroin Calls - Exposures and Information

 
Calls Received

 

 
 

Use of synthetic drugs has also become increasingly popular in recent years, and in 2015 THC homologs (also known as synthetic marijuana) topped the charts for exposures to this broad class of substances. Serious harm has occurred with THC homologs use, including the need for intubation and even death.

Synthetic Drug Exposure by Type

Total: 347

 
THC Homologs (296 cases)
 
Molly/MDMA (34 cases)
 
Bath Salts (17 cases)

 

 

The number of synthetic drug exposures, by type, received by the Poison Control Center in 2015.

 

Previous statistics and trends

Download previous annual reports to find poison statistics and trends from past years based on data collected by the Poison Control Center.

2014
2013


Next Steps
24-Hour Hotline

What to Expect When You Call

When you call the Poison Control Center, we will ask you a series of questions. Here's what we'll need to know so we can help.

Poisoning Resources for Professionals

Find treatment tips for poisoning events, clinical pathways, information about toxicology assessments, and more.