A debut manual examines poisonous household substances and less toxic alternatives.
What are parents to do if, say, their child takes a bite out of an air freshener? The answer, according to Angert, is to rinse out the kid’s mouth with water. The adults should also not panic too much, a major theme throughout the book, which is presented as a go-to resource when common products are used inappropriately. The author delivers advice on items ranging from acne treatments to witch hazel. Background information is provided on each substance as well as the potential for toxicity if brought into contact with skin (or inhaled, consumed, or simply placed in the mouth). There are also practical tips and remedies. For instance, if someone swallows gasoline and throat irritation results, drinking milk may alleviate the burning sensation, though vomiting should never be induced. Beyond such suggestions, the guide features intriguing tidbits as well as home recipes. For example, the entry on gasoline includes the meaning of octane and a brief history of ethanol fuel. There are sections on how to make fabric softener, clean up an antifreeze spill, and determine whether certain moldy foods can be eaten or should be thrown away. The text often has a folksy tone that wouldn’t be out of place in a Mother Jones article. Angert nimbly explains that the manufacturer of Bitrex (which is used as an additive to nail polish remover to make it unpalatable) offers taste-test kits so consumers can “discover just how awful it is.” The pointers here are immensely useful, though some of them can be oddly placed. Mosquito prevention recommendations follow a passage on the toxicity of Tiki torch fuel. The two topics are not entirely unrelated, though it seems that someone concerned about accidental citronella oil consumption may not be in the mood to discover new ways to keep mosquitoes out of the backyard. Nevertheless, the manual is illuminating and concise. Readers, whether they are distressed because their pets ate ant poison or they simply want to make their own deodorant, are likely to learn something valuable in these pages.
A helpful, easy-to-read guide to poisons.