Most people think of poisoning as a childhood issue. That is true for poisoning exposures, but not for nonfatal and fatal poisonings. The pie charts below show the distribution of poisoning exposures, nonfatal poisonings and fatal poisonings by age groups. The poisoning exposure data is provided by the American Association of Poison Control Centers and represents the calls received by poison control centers. The nonfatal data represents emergency department visits, while the fatality data is compiled from death certificates.

Nonfatal exposures occur predominantly among young children, largely from ingesting personal care products like cosmetics or household cleaning products. Fatal and non-fatal poisonings overwhelmingly occur among adults, which is largely attributed to the opioid epidemic in the United States. While 45% of poisoning exposures involve children 4 or younger, more than 90% of nonfatal poisonings and 99% of fatalities are adults older than 19.

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Nonfatal poisonings increased 15% in 2016 and now account for more than 1.7 million emergency department visits a year. Fatal poisonings also continue to rise, growing more than 22% from 2015.

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Source: Fatal and nonfatal data – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, WISQARS
Poisoning exposures –  Gummin, D.D.,  Mowry, J.B.,  Spyker, D.A., Brooks, D.E.,  Fraser, M.O., & Banner, W. (2017) 2016 Annual Report of the American Association of Poison Control Centers’ National Poison Data System (NPDS): 34th Annual Report, Clinical Toxicology, 55 (10, 1072-1254, DOI: 10.1080/15563650.2017.1388087)

See data details