What is a Poison?

What is a Poison?

Playing with household cleaners

A poison is any substance that may cause harm or illness to a person because of its chemical action to the body. There can be many different routes of exposure.The most common include:

  • Swallowing 
  • Splashing on the skin or in the eyes 
  • Inhaling 


A substance may be harmful or poisonous if taken the wrong way, by the wrong person or in the wrong amount. Poisons cause a wide variety of symptoms, ranging from a mild reaction to a serious illness or possible death.

Examples of common household poisons:

  • Medicine (e.g. prescriptions, over-the-counter, herbal remedies)
  • Household cleaners (e.g. all purpose cleaners, bleach, detergents)
  • Car products (e.g. windshield washer fluid, antifreeze, gasoline, oil)
  • Personal care products (e.g. cosmetics, nail polish remover, hair spray, mouthwash)
  • Plants
  • Alcohol