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Each year in British Columbia over 26,000 poisonings are reported to the B.C. Poison Control Centre. These include both unintentional and intentional poisonings and overdoses. The type of poisons and the approach to preventing a poisoning depends on the age group involved.
More than half of all poisonings involve young children, with children between one and three years of age at highest risk. The situations are mostly unintentional and are a function of the child’s developmental stage. Young children constantly explore and investigate the world around them. The types of poisons in this age group are often things that they encounter in their environment. Unintentional poisonings in adolescents and adults can occur when product label instructions are not read and followed, or when products are not stored properly.
Each season presents unique hazards and spring is no exception. We are often busy spring cleaning and working in the yard, using chemicals and cleaners that we haven’t all year. By increasing our general awareness of some of the springtime hazards we can prevent poisonings in both young children and ourselves.
1. Dolomite lime contains calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate.
2. Rapid lime contains magnesium carbonate. DO NOT confuse these products with:
slaked lime contains calcium hydroxide or calcium magnesium hydroxide. Another name for slaked lime is hydrated lime.
unslaked lime is calcium oxide.
agricultural lime may contain calcium oxide (unslaked lime) or calcium hydroxide (slaked lime).
1. Dolomite lime and rapid lime have a low order of toxicity. May be irritating to skin.
2. Agricultural lime ingredients are caustic alkalis and can cause burns.
Can water lawn immediately after application. Water again before allowing children on the area.
Usually contain ferrous sulfate as well as ammonium sulfate or possibly zinc sulfate (e.g. roof moss killers).
May be irritating to skin. Can cause vomiting if the powder is swallowed.
Allow 48 hours after application prior to watering and allowing children on the area.
1. Glyphosate (Roundup)
2. 2,4-D and derivatives (e.g. mecoprop, MCPA)
Clinical Effects: Possible skin irritation.
1. Glyphosate – minimum of 6 hours prior to watering (longer time preferred).
2. 2,4-D and derivatives – minimum of 24 hours prior to watering (48 hours preferred).
Some insecticides may be applied to the lawn (e.g. diazinon).
Clinical Effects: Possible skin and eye irritation. May be irritating if inhaled. Possible serious effects if ingested.
Recommendations: Allow a minimum of 24 hours prior to watering and allowing children on area.
Is usually used in combination with lime sulfur.
Clinical Effects: Low order of toxicity. Can be irritating to the eyes and skin.
A simple mask (e.g. dust mask) is recommended when spraying to avoid inhalation of mists.
Children should be kept indoors during spraying. Can be allowed outside once droplets have dried.
Azaleas/Rhododendrons – All parts are considered toxic. Azaleas are less toxic than rhododendrons. Symptoms include burning in the mouth, salivation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
Crocus – The spring crocus is nontoxic. DO NOT confuse with the Autumn crocus.
Daffodils/Narcissus – All parts of the plant are considered toxic (especially the bulb). May cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Iris – All parts of the plant are considered toxic. May cause mouth, stomach or skin irritation.
Mushrooms – Ingestion of a small mushroom or part of a large one may be toxic.
Prunus species including flowering plum and cherry trees - Cyanogenic glycosides are contained in the seeds of the fruit. Ingestion of 1-2 pits is not considered toxic.
Cherry laurel also contains cyanogenic glycosides. All parts of the plant except the flesh of the berry are considered toxic. The pits of cherry and cherry laurel resist chewing and digestion and are not a problem if swallowed.
Tulips – The bulb is nontoxic but may cause dermatitis.
•for 24 hr poison first aid and treatment information•
BC Poison Control Centre
604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911