Thursday, October 28, 2010

Head of Poison Information and Education System Testifies at Toxic Chemicals and Children's Environmental Health Hearing

As noted in my other posts this week, on Tuesday there was a Senate subcommittee hearing on "Toxic Chemicals and Children's Environmental Health" in New Jersey.  In addition to testimony by EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and CNN's Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, there was testimony by Dr. Steven Marcus, Executive and Medical Director, New Jersey Poison Information and Education System, Professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Community Health, Associate Professor of Pediatrics
New Jersey Medical School of The University of Medicine & Dentistry of New Jersey.

Dr. Marcus emphasized the importance of poison control centers around the country.  He noted that "poison centers respond to the needs of the US citizens in every state and territory of the country 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year."  He noted that, nationally, "there are over 4 million exposures reported to poison centers with over 50% of the victims of these exposures occurring in children under 5 years of age."
"To put that into perspective, once every 15 seconds a child in this country is reported to be exposed to some potential toxin."
His take home message at the end of his testimony was that there "are actions which can and should be taken now" that "will help respond to the risk of exposure to chemical substances of all nature, medications, spoiled food, etc."  He listed:
1. Find a way to “shore up” the funding of existing poison centers

2. Supply funds to allow enhanced surveillance activities of poison centers

3. Supply funds to train medical toxicologists outside of the Medicare cap and encourage
pediatricians to seek such training.
More information at the subcommittee web site.

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