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(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Richard Burr (R-NC) introduced bi-partisan legislation that will continue the federal government' vital support for the nation's poison control centers. Specifically, the bill reauthorizes the poison center national toll-free number, national media campaign, and state grant program. 

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that in any given year there will be between 3 and 5 million poison exposures. Sixty percent of these exposures will involve children under the age of 6 who are exposed to toxins in their home. Poisoning is the second most common form of unintentional death in the United States and accounts for 285,000 hospitalizations.

“The Poison Control network is literally a lifeline for millions of Americans,” Senator Murray said.  “This bill means that parents around the country can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that help is still just a phone call away.”

“The expert assistance provided by poison centers like Carolinas Poison Center, is available to families and hospitals 24 hours a day and significantly reduces the number of emergency room visits and associated health care costs for poisonings,” Senator Burr said.  “We must renew our commitment to the nation’s poison centers so they can continue to be a resource in detecting and monitoring public health emergencies.”

The poison center national toll-free number, national media campaign, and state grant program that will be reauthorized in this bill provide the federal assistance for the nation's network of poison control centers to support poison prevention. There are currently 61 poison control centers (PCCs) nationwide. Each PCC is a medical support facility staffed by toxicologists, nurses, and other professionals operating 24 hours a day seven days a week to provide a free, but critical medical service. In 2007, more then 4 million calls were managed by these 61 PCCs. 

PCCs have also proven to be an extraordinarily wise federal investment. A 2004 National Academy of Sciences/Institute of Medicine two?year study of the nation’s poison control centers states that for every $1 invested in poison control centers, $7 in U.S. health care costs are saved.  

Senator Murray has long supported poison control efforts in Washington state and across the nation. On October 11th, 2007 Murray was presented with the William O. Robertson, MD Award by Washington Poison Center because "she has fought for financial and technical support for poison centers at the national level and continues to lobby not only to maintain this support but increase it."

The toll-free nationwide poison control hotline number is 1-800-222-1222.