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25/06/2015 National Poisons Centre continues to deliver Poisonsline Staff at the National Poisons Centre based at the University of Otago are delighted to learn that the Ministry of Health has chosen Homecare Medical as the preferred provider for the National Telehealth Service.

“The National Poisons Centre looks forward to working with Homecare Medical, as the lead provider, to continue to deliver the national Poisonsline based in Dunedin,” says NPC Director Dr Wayne Temple.

“Both organisations share the same values when it comes to health care delivery and believe that this partnership will be of greater benefit to the New Zealand public.”

Homecare Medical will also be responsible for delivering Healthline, Immunisation Advice, Quitline, and the three helplines for Depression, Gambling, and Alcohol and Drugs. The National Poisons Centre will continue to deliver the Poisonsline service from Dunedin.

The NPC, based in the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine at the University of Otago, has been providing the New Zealand public and health-care professionals with poisons advice for more than 50 years.

Partnering with Homecare Medical will ensure that “every door is the right door” for the people in New Zealand seeking health advice.

“This partnership will only serve to enhance the Poisonsline Service, as the NPC will be supported by Homecare Medical in its service delivery. Greater access for patients and seamless inter-service referrals are just a couple of the benefits that will arise from the partnership,” adds Dr Temple.

“I’m very pleased that people involved in this project have recognised the merit in retaining the National Poisons Centre.”

The NPC currently handles approximately 35,000 poisoning enquires every year. It also maintains a poisons information database called TOXINZ. The NPC will continue to operate 24/7 and can be contacted by calling 0800 POISON / 0800 764-766.
16/06/2015 New rules for antifouling paints The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is reminding boaties and anyone else who paints boats of new rules for using antifouling paints.

From 1 July 2015, anyone who uses antifouling paints has to make sure they work in a controlled work area.

This means they have to make sure none of the paint they spray can get out of the work area, and nobody else can get in while they are working.

They also have to put up signs to warn people about the work they are doing, and the measures they need to take to stay safe.

The new rules require anyone who removes antifouling paint from a boat to make sure that all the scrapings and other waste are collected and disposed of properly.

And a rule that came into force two years ago requires anyone who handles antifouling paint to use protective clothing or equipment to limit their exposure to the paint and its fumes.

For more information go to or downlaod a copy of the brochure from our resources page.
10/10/2012 Nitrogen cocktail drinker's stomach removed Authorities say a British teen has had her stomach removed after she ingested a cocktail prepared with liquid nitrogen, an exotic ingredient often used by bartenders to add a touch of drama to their drinks.

British media say 18-year-old Gaby Scanlon was out with her friends Thursday night in the northern England city of Lancaster when she was hospitalised after having a drink prepared with liquid nitrogen, a super-cooled version of the harmless gas.

Liquid nitrogen evaporates rapidly at room temperature, creating a cauldron effect as water condenses around the glass.

It's not clear how exactly Scanlon managed to ingest the liquid — local police have said they're investigating — but public health officials say it's time to take a second look at its use in bars.

The bar is not thought to have made an error in preparing the drink but The Telegraph newspaper quoted Professor Peter Barham, of the University of Bristol's School of Physics stressing the proper use of liquid nitrogen.

The temperature of the liquid is around -196C and if it is not used properly it can cause frostbite or cryogenic burns, he warned.

"As with any very hot or very cold liquid proper safety measures must be taken,'' he told The Telegraph. ''Just as no-one would drink boiling water or oil or pour it over themselves, so no-one should ingest liquid nitrogen.

"Liquid nitrogen can be used safely in the preparation of foods. However, since it is not safe to ingest liquid nitrogen due care must be taken to ensure that the liquid has all evaporated before serving any food or drink that was prepared with liquid nitrogen.''

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TOXINZ ( is the National Poisons Centre's Internet database containing information regarding toxic compounds and the management of poisoned patients.

For information on subscribing to TOXINZ, contact

Welcome to the New Zealand National Poisons Centre

Kids - Click here for games The National Poisons Centre is a 24/7 Poisons Information Service available to all New Zealanders.

Provided by the Ministry of Health and ACC, the NPC maintains an accurate and up-to-date database of almost all poisonous substances in NZ and Australia, and provides professional and timely advice during poisoning incidents.

General Advice for Plants Exposures

General Advice for Plants Exposures

There are many plants in the garden, some poisonous some not. A few simple hints will help us enjoy them all safely

Plant Identification

The correct identification of the plant is very important. It is a good idea to know the names of the plants in your garden, and your pot plants, so that the correct information can be given if poisoning should occur. If you are unsure, take a piece of the plant to a Garden Centre or Botanist. Try to get both a common name and a botanical name. Once the plant has been identified, call your Poisons Centre for advice.

General Advice

Poisonous Plants

There are many plants in the garden that are regarded as internal poisons and can cause toxic effects if parts of the plant are eaten.

Many plants in the household garden can also cause effects to the skin. These can be mechanically irritating (e.g. thorns or prickles), or have sap that can cause pain, burns or dermatitis.

Non-Poisonous Plants

Non-poisonous plants are those that do not cause poisoning to humans. However, it is important to realise that plants may cause unpleasant effects even if they are considered non-toxic.

  • Non-poisonous plants can be irritating to the mouth and throat.
  • Children particularly dislike plants that taste bitter and may become distressed. If this happens, give the child a small drink or something to suck on (such as an ice-block, lolly or wet face-cloth).
  • Non-poisonous plants can cause nausea, or even some vomiting and diarrhea when swallowed.This is simply because the stomach is not used to the plant.
  • Non-poisonous plants can cause an allergic reaction when swallowed or on the skin.This can range from skin irritation or dermatitis, to an all-over rash, temperature, swelling and difficulty breathing.

General Prevention Advice on Garden Plants

  • Children should be encouraged to enjoy the plants in the garden without eating them.
  • It may not be advisable to have plants that are poisonous within reach of children.
  • Berries, flowers and other plant material which fall onto lawns or garden paths should be cleared away so that children are not tempted to put them in their mouth.
  • It is a good idea to know the names of the plants in your garden, and your pot plants, so that the correct information can be given if poisoning should occur.

First Aid for Plant Exposures - What Should I Do?

If Swallowed
If on Skin
If in Eyes

If Swallowed

DO seek medical advice from either your Poisons Centre or your Doctor.
DO immediately give a small amount of water or milk if the plant is corrosive or irritating (e.g. Arum Lily) (1/4 to 1/2 cup for a child, 1 to 2 cups for an adult)
DO NOT give a large amount of fluids
DO NOT make the person vomit without advice from a medical professional

If a person develops an all-over rash or a temperature:

Take the person to the nearest Medical Centre or Hospital as soon as possible.

If the person is having difficulty breathing:

  • Keep the person calm
  • Help the person into a position so that breathing is as easy as possible
  • Quickly ring the emergency services telephone number to call an ambulance.

If on Skin

DO seek medical advice from either your Poisons Centre or your Doctor.
DO remove any spikes or thorns that may have stuck to the skin
DO immediately flush the exposed area with lots of water
DO NOT leave plant matter or sap on the skin, even for a few minutes. They may be absorbed by the skin over time and cause poisoning or burns

If the skin is irritated:

  • Call your Poisons Information Centre
  • Apply calamine lotion or a steroid cream
  • Apply ice or a cold compress
  • Take analgesics for any pain
  • Take an antihistamine for any swelling
  • Do NOT apply ice to hands or feet as this can cut off circulation

If the skin looks burned:

  • Treat the skin the same as a thermal (heat) burn
  • Clean the skin gently with cool water
  • Apply ice or a cold compress
  • Do NOT apply ice to hands or feet as this may cut off circulation
  • If the skin is very painful, infected, or a large area is affected, take the person to a Medical Centre or Hospital.

If in Eyes

DO flush with room-temperature water for at least 15 minutes
DO seek medical advice from either your Poisons Centre or your Doctor.
DO get an eye examination performed at your Medical Centre or Hospital.

DO NOT use an eye bath solution or eye drops. Eye baths and drops do not contain enough water to flush the eye and may react with the plant matter in the eye
Do NOT use a High pressure shower to flush the eye. Showers may cause additional pain to the eye[More]

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University of Otago NZ National Poisons Centre

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