Poison Help 1-800-222-1222 [logo]

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When accidents happen with chemicals, medicine, or household items, call Poison Help. Get help right away from a local poison expert.

If someone is unconscious or has trouble breathing, call 911.

Poison Centers

About Poison Centers

Poison centers provide educational services to prevent poisonings, as well as help during poison emergencies to people who need it. More than 70 percent of people who call a poison center get the help they need over the telephone without having to go to a doctor or the hospital.1

Calling the Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222), which connects you to your local poison center, is faster and cheaper than calling an ambulance and going to the emergency room. Even health care professionals who are seeking treatment advice for their patients consult poison center experts; they account for about 16 percent of all calls.2

Poison center history3

The idea for a poison center came from a part-time secretary from the American Academy of Pediatrics during the early 1950s. She called hospitals in Chicago to find out why children were in the emergency room with certain problems. What had they eaten? What did they drink?

At the time, companies did not have to tell people much about the ingredients in their products. The secretary asked companies what ingredients in their products might be making children sick. She then asked a group of medical professionals to set treatment guidelines. When doctors had questions, they would call her, and she would read medical advice to them off note cards.  

Soon after, the U.S. Surgeon General ordered copies of her 1,000 index cards to be sent to health departments across the country. From this, the first poison center was founded, and the idea spread throughout the nation.


1953: Opening of the first U.S. poison center4

1958: Founding of the American Association of Poison Control Centers5

1961: Congressional establishment of National Poison Prevention Week6

2002: Introduction of the toll-free Poison Help line, 1-800-222-1222, which connects you to your local poison center7

  1. American Association of Poison Control Centers: About Poison Control Centers Exit Disclaimer

  2. Bronstein AC,  Spyker DA Cantilena LR, Green JL, Rumack BH, Giffin SL. 2008 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS): 26th Annual Report. 2009. Clinical Toxicology (2009) 47, 911–1084. Exit Disclaimer
  3. National Conference of State Legislatures Exit Disclaimer
  4. American Association of Poison Control Centers Exit Disclaimer
  5. National Poison Prevention Week Council Exit Disclaimer
  6. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention