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December 17, 1955

LYE POISONING

JAMA. 1955;159(16):1541. doi:10.1001/jama.1955.02960330041014

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Abstract

A report to the Committee on Toxicology in this issue (page 1537) points out that the rate for fatal poisoning in children by certain nonmedical chemicals in the South is several times that for the rest of the country. Lye and kerosene poisoning are among the most common causes of injury in this age group.

In a recent discussion of this sectional problem before the Committee on Toxicology, it was pointed out that in one southern state about 150 cases of lye poisoning occur each year, with six to eight deaths annually. Eighty-five per cent of the cases occur among poor and illiterate persons who use lye because of its inexpensiveness and potency as a cleanser. It was further suggested that use in the home would be discouraged if the sale of lye in small containers were banned. While it is generally recognized that decreasing access to a poison reduces

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