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J Toxicol Clin Toxicol. 2003;41(7):907-17.

Guideline for the out-of-hospital management of human exposures to minimally toxic substances.

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American Association of Poison Control Centers in collaboration with the American Academy of Clinical Toxicology and the American College of Medical Toxicology, Washington, DC 20016, USA.


All substances are capable of producing toxicity, so nothing is completely non-toxic. Minimally toxic substances are those which produce little toxicity, minor self-limited toxicity, or clinically insignificant effects at most doses. Examples include silica gel, A&D ointment, chalk, lipstick, and non-camphor lip balms, watercolors, hand dishwashing detergents, non-salicylate antacids (excluding magnesium or sodium bicarbonate containing products), calamine lotion, clay, crayons, diaper rash creams and ointments, fabric softeners/sheets, glow products, glue (white, arts, and crafts type), household plant food, oral contraceptives, pen ink, pencils, starch/sizing, throat lozenges without local anesthetics, topical antibiotics, topical antifungals, topical steroids, topical steroids with antibiotics, and water-based paints. Minimally toxic exposures have the following characteristics: (1) The information specialist has confidence in the accuracy of the history obtained and the ability to communicate effectively with the caller. (2) The information specialist has confidence in the identity of the product(s) or substance(s) and a reasonable estimation of the maximum amount involved in the exposure. (3) The risks of adverse reactions or expected effects are acceptable to both the information specialist and the caller based on available medical literature and clinical experience. (4) The exposure does not require a healthcare referral since the potential effects are benign and self-limited. However, decisions regarding patient disposition should take into account the patient's intent, symptoms, and social environment. In addition, individual patient circumstances (e.g., pregnancy, pre-existing medical conditions, therapeutic interventions) need to be considered. Minimally toxic exposures may vary in route (dermal, inhalation, ingestion, ocular), chronicity (acute, chronic), and substance composition (single or multi-ingredient, single or multiple product). Future categorization of substances as "minimally toxic" should be based on a process involving review of current knowledge, a thorough analysis of poisoning experience, and prospective validation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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