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Human poisonings and rodenticides: evaluation of incidents reported to the American Association of Poison Control Centers


Accidental human exposure to pesticide products is a major concern of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). One condition of product reregistration is the submission of product-specific incident report summaries from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) Toxic Exposure Surveillance System (TESS). Between 1986 and 1998, the AAPCC received a total of 22,921,827 incident reports from telephone calls and physician reports. The total number of incident reports per year more than doubled between 1986 and 1998, with 2,241,082 incidents in 1998. While the total number of incidents increased each year, the reporting per year rate remained constant at approximately 9 reports per 1,000 individuals. Rodenticide related incident reports increased from 8,705 in 1986 to 20,300 in 1998. However, the yearly reporting rate for rodenticide incidents remained constant at approximately 8 reports per 100,000 individuals. Since 1990, anticoagulants have consistently accounted for 82% to 89% of all rodenticide exposures and “long-acting” anticoagulants (i.e., 2nd generation compounds such as brodifacoum) have accounted for 83% to 91% of all anticoagulant incidents. Although there was variation between years, there were approximately 150 incident reports each year for both strychnine and zinc phosphide. “Unintentional” exposures accounted for approximately 85% of all incidents reported to the AAPCC. With the exception of strychnine, unintentional exposure to rodenticides was slightly higher, at 90%. In the case of zinc phosphide, nearly all exposures (>97%) were unintentional. The majority of exposures involved children less than 6 years old. However, adults were reported to be involved more than 50% of the strychnine incidents. Despite the high number of exposures, very few cases resulted in more than minor symptoms.

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