Press Release

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) and the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) Provide Back to School Poisoning Safety Tips

August 22, 2017 | Download PDF

Alexandria, VA – As summer comes to an end and children head back to the classroom, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) and the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC) offer a few simple steps to help prevent poisonings at daycare and school. Additionally, AAPCC and NPIC remind teachers and guardians that expert medical advice is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week through the free Poison Help hotline, 1 (800) 222-1222.

“Each year, approximately 28,000 exposures occur in a school,” said Stephen T. Kaminski, JD, AAPCC CEO and Executive Director. “To combat these exposures, AAPCC is partnering with the National Pesticide Information Center to promote poison safety in the classroom and ensure that schools and daycares, where children spend most of their days, are healthy and safe environments.”

“In order to reduce the spread of disease in the classroom setting, schools may use antimicrobials (sanitizers and disinfectants) to kill germs like bacteria and viruses,” said Alicia Leytem, Pesticide Specialist at the National Pesticide Information Center. “While these cleaning substances play an important role in protecting public health by increasing productivity, lowering absences, and reducing indoor allergens, they also contain chemicals that may cause serious health problems if used in the wrong way or in the wrong amounts.”

Children are especially sensitive to cleaning chemicals, due to their underdeveloped immune systems. Unsafe behaviors coupled with natural curiosity increases the chances of a child coming into contact with hazardous chemicals. By taking a few simple steps, teachers and guardians can continue to provide their students with a clean, safe, and poison-free learning environment:

1) Store cleaning products and chemicals up, away, and out of sight of children, and in their original containers. It is also important to remember that some cleaning products, like bleach and ammonia, can create highly toxic fumes when combined. NEVER mix cleaning chemicals!

2) Read and follow label instructions. Make a habit of reviewing the label on any chemical or product before each use. Follow usage directions, and the directions provided for safe storage and disposal. For antimicrobials to be effective, the surface must stay wet for the amount of time listed on the label.

3) Apply insect repellents properly. Insect repellents should always be applied by an adult and according to the label instructions.Do not allow children to handle this product, and do not apply to children's hands. After returning indoors, wash the child's treated skin and clothes with soap and water or bathe.

4) Be prepared for an emergency. Contact poison control immediately at (800) 222-1222 if you suspect that a student or staff has been accidentally exposed to a dangerous substance, or is showing symptoms. The best way for teachers and caregivers to be prepared in the event of any poisoning emergency is to save the contact information for poison control into their smartphones simply by texting “POISON” to 797979. Also, make sure to display the contact information for poison control throughout your daycare or school, in case of emergency.

For general questions about selecting, storing, using, or disposing of insect repellents, antimicrobials, and other pesticides, call NPIC at (800) 858-7378 or visit the National Pesticide Information Center’s website.

For more information on preventing poisonings in the classroom, visit AAPCC and NPIC’s Daycare and School Poison Safety webpage.


Poison Safety Classroom Checklist 

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Angela Gonzales, AAPCC’s Manager of Communications and Outreach, 703-894-1865,

About the National Pesticide Information Center (NPIC)

NPIC provides objective, science-based information about pesticides and pesticide-related topics to enable people to make informed decisions about pesticides and their use. NPIC is a cooperative agreement between Oregon State University and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. NPIC produces many types of publications including research papers, frequently asked questions, annual reports, outreach materials, podcasts and other resources available to the public. Click here to see a complete list of publications.

About American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC)

AAPCC supports the nation’s 55 poison center members in their efforts to treat and prevent drug, consumer product, animal, environmental and food poisoning. Members staff the Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 that provides free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year from toxicology specialists, including nurses, pharmacists, physicians and poison information providers. In addition, AAPCC maintains the only poison information and surveillance database in the United States, providing real-time monitoring of unusual poisoning patterns, chemical exposures and other emerging public health hazards. AAPCC partners with federal agencies such as HRSA, CDC, FDA and EPA, as well as private industry. Be prepared for a poisoning emergency and download poison control’s contact information today. Text “poison” to 797979.

For More Information

  • Edward V. Walrod

    • Associate Manager for Media and Public Relations
    • Email: media at aapcc dot org
    • 703-894-1863

Find Your Local Poison Center

Poison centers offer free, private, confidential medical advice 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You can reach your local poison center by calling 1-800-222-1222.

View all Poison Control Centers