Chemistry set poisoning

Int J Clin Pract. Jul-Aug 1997;51(5):321-3.


A prospective survey of chemistry set poisoning (CSP) was undertaken using the monthly postal enquiry report system of the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit (BPSU). Fourteen cases were reported, with one fatality and uneventful full recovery in the other 13. The packaging of the chemicals was unsatisfactory in all cases: it was not child resistant and had no proper closures. Risk factors were lack of supervision 64.3%, emotional factors 28.6%, genuine accident 7% and unidentified 7%. An additional retrospective survey of CSP reported to the National Poisons Information Service centres over the same period added a further 19 cases of CSP, making a total of 33 cases, 14 (42%) being due to copper sulphate and four (12%) to cobalt chloride, respectively. This survey showed CSP to be a significant problem, with an incidence of 0.3 cases per 100,000 children. Six recommendations were made concerning child-resistant containers, toxic hazard warnings, size and content of the lettering, health education programmes targeted at the most vulnerable groups, and lastly, a legal restriction on the chemicals that can be included in these sets, so that the most toxic are excluded.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cobalt / poisoning*
  • Copper Sulfate / poisoning*
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Play and Playthings*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors


  • Cobalt
  • cobaltous chloride
  • Copper Sulfate