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.
Chalk is generally considered to be nonpoisonous, but it can cause problems if large amounts are swallowed.
- Billiard chalk (magnesium carbonate)
- Blackboard and artist's chalk (gypsum)
- Tailor's chalk (talc)
Note: This list may not include all uses of chalk.
Seek medical help right away. 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 strength, if known)
- Time it was swallowed
- Amount swallowed
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.
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.
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.
Chalk poisoning; Chalk - swallowing
Update Date 1/26/2014
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.