FOX 47 - Health News

MADISON (WMSN) -- Hidden among the hustle and bustle of the season -- in households, workplaces, and stores -- you'll find toxins that can ruin the holiday.

Donna Lotzer is poison education coordinator for UW Hospital in Madison. She says there are a lot of myths about holiday poisons, starting with mistletoe and holly.

"Mistletoe is good for kissing," she said. "You'll notice nowadays mistletoe has plastic leaves and real fruit, or real leaves and plastic fruit. That's because it was believed eating a single berry or leaf could be highly toxic."

Not true, Lotzer says, unless you eat a couple bushels.

Poinsettia plants have gotten a bad reputation over the years as being poisonous. Not so, experts say, but the white substance inside can be irritating, and if it gets on your skin, you should wash it off.

When it comes to real dangers, what you put on your Christmas tree could put you at risk, especially old tinsel.

"If it's material which is soft, and breaks easily, it very well may be lead-containing tinsel," Lotzer said. "Modern tinsel is plastic."

Lotzer says you should also forgo decorative bubble lights, which contain methylene chloride, a dangerous chemical.

"If you get it on your skin or inhale it, it's irritating but it's also known to be a carcinogen."

If you have a poison emergency during the holidays, you can call 1-800-222-1222 for help.

Online reporting by Jeff Angileri

Holiday Poisons

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