This week marks the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week. It’s also Poison Prevention Month in Illinois. It’s a time for residents to educate themselves about the dangerous substances in their homes, says Dr. Michael Wahl, managing medical director Illinois Poison Center.
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“Poison prevention education is vital to the public’s safety,” Wahl said. “By using the entire month of March as a means to increase awareness of this serious health issue, we hope to reduce the incidence and injury caused by poisonings.” Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has been working with the IPC to increase awareness about synthetic drugs. The IPC has seen an increase in call regarding synthetic cocaine and synthetic marijuana. Madigan says that nationwide in 2010 there were 303 calls to poison control centers regarding synthetic cocaine or bath salts. In 2011 there were 6,000 calls. In 2009 there were just 14 calls nationwide regarding synthetic marijuana like K-2. In 2010 poison call centers saw that number jump to 2,915 and in 2011 calls hit 6,890.
On the books is a law that makes illegal the chemical makeup of some of the synthetic drugs. Madigan has been pushing legislation to make synthetic pot and cocaine illegal regardless of the chemical makeup. It would also increase fines for those caught selling the products. H.B. 5233 passed in the House and is now pending in the Senate.