U.S. Department of Health & Human Services


Poison Help 1-800-222-1222 [logo]

Increase font size


When accidents happen with chemicals, medicine, or household items, call Poison Help. Get help right away from a local poison expert.

If someone is unconscious or has trouble breathing, call 911.


Household and Chemical Products

Household and Chemical Products

My child likes to eat toothpaste. Is this dangerous?

Toothpaste contains fluoride, which can be dangerous in large amounts. Usually there is not enough fluoride in a tube of toothpaste to cause a serious poisoning. However, you should teach your child that eating toothpaste is not safe. Eating too much toothpaste can cause both short-and long-term problems. If you think your child may have eaten toothpaste, to get advice call 1-800-222-1222, which connects you to your local poison center.

What should I do with the mercury from a broken thermometer?

When mercury is spilled, it gives off fumes. If not cleaned up, these fumes are poisonous if breathed in. Do not vacuum up the mercury. Call 1-800-222-1222, which connects you to your local poison center, for advice on cleaning up mercury.

Can mouthwash be dangerous?

Yes. Mouthwash often contains alcohol. To a young child, even a small amount of alcohol can be deadly. Also, many other personal care products contain alcohol (for example, germ killers for cleaning hands and acne treatment products). Keep all mouthwash and other personal care products out of reach of children.

Why is it dangerous to use drink containers to store household products and other chemicals?

Children and adults might think that products or other chemicals that are stored in drink containers are safe to drink. Drinking these products by mistake can be deadly.

Is the lead in paint dangerous to children?

It could be. In the past, paints contained high levels of lead, but in 1971, Congress set safety standards for lead in paint products. The standards apply to paints as well as coatings on toys and other items used by children.

Threats do, however, still exist from old buildings and products. Children can be poisoned by eating paint chips or breathing dust from old lead paint. During remodeling and renovation projects, workers and families face danger when improperly removing paint from older buildings. These types of projects are one of the major causes of lead poisoning in the home.

Be aware that toys made in countries outside the United States can contain unsafe amounts of lead. Doctors can test children for lead poisoning. Call 1-800-222-1222, which connects you to your local poison center, for advice if you are concerned.

Return to top