What’s an Everyday Poison?

What’s an Everyday Poison?

Everything in your home, car and office is a poison.


Your toothpaste, your hair gel, your laundry soap, your furniture polish.

Not to mention your air, food and water.

Because here’s the thing: The dose makes the poison.

Too much water? Deadly.

Too much oxygen? Deadly.

Water can be an everyday poison
That deadly poison, oxidane.*

Too much chocolate? Deadly.

The dose makes the poison. That’s the bottom line.

And while it may be alarming that anything can be poisonous, it’s reassuring to realize that anything can be nonpoisonous.

Too little bleach? Nonpoisonous.

Too little hydrogen peroxide? Nonpoisonous.

Too little floor cleaner? Nonpoisonous.

In my years at poison control I took calls from thousands of people worried about accidental exposures to common household products. What I learned is that while our homes are filled with products we value for their convenience and utility, we don’t usually know much about them other than their intended use.

And because we don’t know much about them, we don’t know what to do when something ends up in a mouth, eye or other place it doesn’t belong. We just get scared.

Our fears always outnumber our dangers.

— Latin proverb

While we are bombarded with messages about the “hidden dangers” and deadly toxins in our homes, the truth is we’ve never been safer. We don’t kill rats with arsenic, and we don’t spray our yards with DDT. Nor do we paint our walls with lead paint or insulate them with asbestos. These once common poisons have been replaced over time with much less toxic alternatives.

Yet we continue to fear our everyday poisons, and that’s because we don’t understand them. The purpose of the Commonsense Guide is to give you reliable, science-based information about all that stuff you have around your house. The more you know, the less fearful you’ll be. And then, when accidental exposures happen, you’ll be ready to handle them safely and sensibly.

* water

Like what you’ve read here? Buy the book!

An informative, fun and useful guide to more than 80 common household products

This indispensable book was written by a poison specialist. Finally—accurate, useful information you can trust.

You’ll find detailed ingredients, safety information and advice on managing accidental exposures.

More than just a first aid how-to, The Commonsense Guide to Everyday Poisons explains what ingredients are, where they come from and what they do.

Historical and surprising information is often included, as well as suggestions for DIY projects.

Now you can make informed decisions about the products you want in your home—and be prepared for the kind of accidental exposures that can happen at any time.

Where to buy the book