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From lamp oil to e-liquids - danger can lurk in everyday life

48/2019, 26.11.2019

Acute poisoning: A special issue of the "Bundesgesundheitsblatt" provides information on current developments in Germany

Most acute cases of poisoning can be treated effectively today. Nevertheless despite better prevention and treatment options, they are far from being a thing of the past. There is often an unexpected poisoning risk - for children, for example, by swallowing lamp oil, button cells or liquids for electronic cigarettes (e-liquids). A special issue of the scientific journal "Bundesgesundheitsblatt" reports on the current state of prevention, detection and medical treatment of poisoning. "Alcoholic beverages, pharmaceuticals and drugs of abuse cause the most acute poisonings," says Professor Dr. Dr. Andreas Hensel, President of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR). "As the data from poisons centres and the BfR show, however, there are many other potential toxic health risks that urgently need more information - information serves as an antidote."

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In the household, paints, varnishes, building materials, disinfectants detergents and cleaning agents can lead to poisoning accidents, as the "Bundesgesundheitsblatt" (Federal Health Gazette) explains. The number of injuries caused by exotic pets has increased. While bites or stings from poisonous spiders, scorpions or marine animals such as lionfish and stingrays usually only cause temporary health problems, snake bites can lead to severe poisoning.

In the meantime, medical treatment has moved away from routine emptying of the stomach, for example with emetics or gastric irrigation - for the benefit of the patients. A large part of the poisonings can be successfully cured today by symptom-oriented efficient emergency and intensive medicine measures. Also suitable "antidotes" are more often to the hand.

The poison information centres of the federal states of Germany play a decisive role in the success of medical treatments. They provide the latest expert knowledge for physicians and patients alike. In addition, they document all cases and recognize when a new trend in poisoning is emerging.

The "BfR Commission for the Evaluation of Poisonings" at the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has supported the development of the issue both conceptually and in terms of content.

About the BfR

The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) is a scientifically independent institution within the portfolio of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) in Germany. It advises the Federal Government and the Federal Laender on questions of food, chemical and product safety. The BfR conducts its own research on topics that are closely linked to its assessment tasks.

This text version is a translation of the original German text which is the only legally binding version.

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