Oct 5, 2016: Back to School – How toxic are most school supplies?


Another school year is in full swing.  Classrooms are full of new and different materials to explore.   Like parents at home, teachers do their best to keep everyone safe. But despite their best efforts, accidents still happen.


Every year, the Tennessee Poison Center manages thousands of calls from schools about potentially harmful exposures. Thankfully, many of these calls are determined to be "non-toxic" with minimal effects like bad taste or irritation, if any.


Examples of actual Tennessee Poison Center calls from Tennessee schools have involved the ingestion of poster and finger paint, magic markers, ink pens,  pencils, school glue, crayons, highlighters, play-doh, chalk, paper, potting soil, and silica gel - just to name a few.  All of these items mentioned fall into the "non-toxic" category, when ingested or applied to the skin. In these cases, a call to the Poison Specialists at Tennessee Poison Center for expert advice resulted in the children being able to remain at school and avoid a trip to a doctor or hospital.


It can be hard to tell if a product is harmful or not. When accidents happen, don't wait. Call the Tennessee Poison Center hotline at 1-800-222-1222.


Make sure your family and your children's teachers have the Poison Center's hotline number. The Poison Help hotline provides fast, free and confidential advice 24 hours a day.


This question prepared by:  Donna Taylor, RN, CSPI (Certified Specialist in Poison Information) Tennessee Poison Center


I am interested in any questions you would like answered in the Question of the Week.  Please email me with any suggestion at donna.seger@vanderbilt.edu


Donna Seger, MD
Medical Director

Tennessee Poison Center


Poison Help Hotline: 1-800-222-1222