homepage logo

A toxic lesson for early years

By Staff | Mar 27, 2012

Master Gardener, Helen Grosso, explains the danger of chemicals to first graders at Ashkar Elementary School on Thursday afternoon during the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week.

HUGHESVILLE – Kids don’t like to get sick, and Helen Grosso, a Master Gardener from Hughesville, made sure that the first grade students at Ashkar Elementary School won’t get sick from dangerous chemicals. The presentation was given last Thursday afternoon in recognition of the 50th anniversary of National Poison Prevention Week.

Using some sample containers from home, Grosso explained how to read labels and how to identify harmful household chemicals, including cosmetics and beauty products.

Using flash cards the students learned how to find three important words: Caution, Warning and Danger on the various products and label information. “Stay away,” explained Grosso, “if you see any of these words. Because these are things that will make you sick,” she told the children.

All households have chemicals stored under kitchen and bathroom sinks. “Do yours have locks on them?” Grosso asked to those who have younger siblings and pets at home. They learned how to store the containers, and to stay away from any unmarked containers. “Is it apple juice or gasoline?” she questioned them as she held up two unidentified containers.

Pesticides are emerging hazards. Grosso explained the use of mouse traps, sticky fly paper, and various insecticides for roaches, fleas and mice. Many of these products now have child resistant packaging. “I never spray a bug outside because I don’t want to kill the good bugs,” Grosso said. “I have no pesticides or chemicals used in my yard, but if you must they have a place,” she told the children as she expressed concern for her grandkids and pets. The important thing is to store them up high.

The famous Mr. Yuk made his annual appearance with the poison control hotline 1-800-1222. Now used nationally the Mr. Yuk sticker was designed by Wendy Courtney Brown, then a 4th grade student at Liberty Elementary in Weirton, West Virginia, as part of a Pittsburgh Poison Control design contest. It makes a nice replacement for the skull and crossbones according to Grosso. Since 1971 Mr. Yuk has been used to educate children about poison prevention and promote poison center awareness.

First established in 1961 National Poison Prevention Week is one of the longest continuously running, health and safety campaigns in the United States. Just this past year, America’s 57 poison control centers fielded 4 million calls, treating 2.4 million human poison exposures and handling 1.6 million information calls according to the Poison Prevention Week Council (PPWC).

Grosso said she officially became a Master Gardener in 2007 and for the past six years has been doing children’s programming throughout the county.