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Swallowing chalk

Chalk is a form of limestone. Chalk poisoning occurs when someone accidentally or intentionally swallows chalk.

This is for information only and not for use in the treatment or management of an actual poison exposure. If you have an exposure, you should call your local emergency number (such as 911) or the National Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Poisonous Ingredient

Chalk is generally considered to be nonpoisonous, but it can cause problems if large amounts are swallowed.

Where Found

  • Billiard chalk (magnesium carbonate)
  • Blackboard and artist's chalk (gypsum)
  • Tailor's chalk (talc)

Note: This list may not include all uses of chalk.

Symptoms

Home Care

Seek immediate medical help. Do NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care professional.

Before Calling Emergency

Determine the following information:

  • Patient's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strengths, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control

The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States. This national hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does NOT need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

See: Poison control center - emergency number

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

The health care provider will measure and monitor your vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate.

A visit to the emergency room, however, may not be necessary.

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well you do depends on the amount of chalk swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

Chalk is considered a fairly nonpoisonous substance, so recovery is likely.

Alternative Names

Chalk poisoning; Chalk - swallowing

Update Date: 2/16/2012

Updated by: Eric Perez, MD, St. Luke's / Roosevelt Hospital Center, NY, NY, and Pegasus Emergency Group (Meadowlands and Hunterdon Medical Centers), NJ. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

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