Online Program

Calls to the Florida Poison Control Centers about Mercury: Trends over 2003-2013

Monday, November 2, 2015

Matthew O. Gribble, Ph.D., Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Wendy Stephan, MPH CHES, Florida Poison Information Center - Miami, University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami, FL
Richard S. Weisman, Pharm.D., DABAT, FAACT, Florida Poison Information Center - Miami, University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, Miami
Context: Mercury is an important toxicant familiar to the general public. Possible temporal patterns of exposure to mercury, and trends in risk perceptions, merit further research.

Objective: In this analysis we aimed to summarize the trends and qualities of calls to Florida Poison Control Centers regarding mercury over 2003-2013.

Materials and Methods: Data about calls to Florida Poison Control Centers are collected via the ToxSentry® system in near-real time.  Poison specialists code calls by substance of concern, caller demographic factors, and whether the call was an exposure-related call or an informational query. Call records regarding mercury were de-identified and provided for statistical analysis.  We fit autoregressive Poisson models using generalized estimating equations to summarize the changes across years in counts of calls to Florida Poison Control Centers, adjusting for month. In a second stage of analysis, we further adjusted for the total number of calls each day.

Results: There was an overall decrease over 2003-2013 in the number of total calls about mercury [Ratio per year: 0.91, 95% CI: (0.90, 0.92)], and also a reduction in calls about mercury exposure [Ratio per year: 0.86, 95% CI: (0.85, 0.87)], but the number of informational queries about mercury increased over this time [Ratio per year: 1.15 (95% CI: 1.12, 1.18)].

Conclusion: As the use of thermometers containing mercury becomes less prevalent, calls to Florida Poison Control Centers about mercury exposure decrease, but informational queries increase.  This study may indicate increased public concern about mercury.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related education
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe changes in calls to the Florida Poison Control Centers pertaining to mercury over the decade 2003-2013.

Keyword(s): Surveillance, Environmental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I helped design the study (using previously available data), conducted the statistical analyses and wrote the abstract. I am interested in mercury and have several related publications in various stages of preparation or review. I also recently completed my first paper on chemical risk perceptions (Gribble et al. IJERPH 2015).
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.