Packaging's role in poison prevention

A recent press clipping noted that about 78,000 children under five years old visited U.S. hospital emergency rooms due to unintentional poisonings in 2003. That's about one every seven minutes, reported the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Most of these poisonings included products commonly found in the home, including over-the-counter pain relievers, cough and cold medicines, and iron-containing vitamins and supplements. CPSC, the National Poison Prevention Week Council, and the American Assn. of Poison Control Centers released the data in March. Rose Ann Soloway, chair of the Poison Prevention Week Council, noted that when repackaged at home in non-child-resistant containers, medicines and potentially hazardous household products become even more accessible and dangerous for young children.

"Grandparents who keep their prescription drugs in non-child-resistant pill boxes should be especially aware of this risk," said Soloway. "Child-resistant packaging doesn't work if it's not used properly." An immediate reaction would be to call for better packaging, labeling, warnings, etc. But then came this last statistic: About 30 children die from poisonings each year, down from 450 in the 1960s.

This reduction represents remarkable progress, and certainly packaging has contributed. While 30 poisoning deaths are a tragedy, considering the number of packages containing poisons brought into the home each year, the declining numbers are good news indeed.

--By Jim Chrzan, Publisher
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