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Every day in the United States, 87 people die as a result of unintentional
poisoning, and another 2,277 are treated in emergency departments (ED).1
A poison is any substance, including medications, that is harmful to your body if too much is eaten, inhaled, injected, or absorbed through the skin. Any substance can be poisonous if too much is taken.
Poisonings are either intentional or unintentional. This fact sheet provides information on the problem of unintentional poisoning in the United States. If the person taking or giving a substance did not mean to cause harm, then it is an unintentional poisoning.
Unintentional poisoning includes the use of drugs or chemicals for nonmedical purposes in excessive amounts, such as an “overdose.” It also includes the excessive use of drugs or chemicals for non-recreational purposes, such as by a toddler.
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