Poisonous Plants

The most common hazards of poisonous plants arise from allergic contact dermatitis from the oil of ubiquitous plants such as poison ivy, poison oak and poison sumac.

When the urushiol oil from these common plants makes contact with the skin, most people will develop a red, itchy rash with bumps or blisters. Employees can avoid exposure by taking the following precautions:

  • Wear long sleeves, long pants, boots and gloves when exposure is likely
  • Do not burn plants such as that may be poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac as this may cause severe lung irritation
  • Clean tools and clothing which may have been exposed and become contaminated with the urushiol oil
  • Immediately wash exposed skin with soap and water to prevent an allergic reaction

If an employee develops a reaction from a work-related exposure, they should follow the work-related injury and illness reporting procedure. Over the counter treatments for allergic reactions to poisonous plants include wet compresses, calamine lotion, or hydrocortisone cream and an oral antihystamine (such as Benadryl) to relieve itching.



Kelly States
Director of Campus Safety and Health

Meagan Fitzpatrick
Assistant Director and Biosafety Officer