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[Photo by Paul Hellstern, The Oklahoman] EDMOND — Whitney Waller has four children age 5 and younger, including a 4-week-old baby, Hadley, whom she rocks and soothes as a diffuser puffs a pleasant aroma of lime, cedarwood and vanilla into the air from her kitchen counter. About 3 1/2 years ago, pleasing smelling essential oils piqued the interest of the Edmond nurse and mom as she sought ways to boost her energy levels. Waller felt skeptical and never intended to go into sales but ended up getting a starter kit and becoming a distributor from the multilevel marketing company Young Living, thinking, "You know, we'll see if this works." At the time, no one in her circle of friends used essential oils. She has since signed up a sales force of 800 in Edmond, across the U.S. and as far away Australia. The bulk of the team are women, and many have children. Waller, 30, quit her job as a nurse to stay at home with her four small children and run her essential oil business. According to the marketing research firm SPINS, essential oil sales hit nearly $1 billion in 2016, skyrocketing since 2014, when consumers bought only $43 million of essential oils such as lavender, peppermint, tea tree and eucalyptus. "I think they found the moms are where their market is," said Robert Tisserand, a co-author of the book "Essential Oil Safety." Along with the massive uptick in interest among moms has come an increase in calls involving young children to poison control centers in Oklahoma and across the nation. The more severe Oklahoma cases included a young child that had to be hospitalized after ingesting the essential oil wintergreen, a child who burned his eyes with peppermint oil and a child who contracted pneumonia after inhaling citronella. The incidents are detailed in reports from the Oklahoma Center for Poison and Drug Information. Dr. William Banner, the Oklahoma center's director and president of the American Association of Poison Control Centers, said that while serious exposure cases are rare, they underscore the potential hazards of essential oils, dangers that he does not believe are well understood by all using the increasingly popular products on kids. "They're probably very attractive, with pretty colors, and not any kind essential oil diffuser of child-resistant packaging, and people are buying them," Banner said. "When you combine all those factors, kids are going to get into it." Banner lost a patient in the 1980s who ingested wintergreen. A single teaspoon of that substance contains as much methyl salicylate as 60 baby aspirins. A 10 milliliter bottle of wintergreen found on the shelf of a grocery store has the equivalent of six toxic doses, he said. Essential oils are chemical compounds that come from plants. They are hydrocarbons that impact the same receptors in the brain as benzodiazepines — which are sometimes prescribed for anxiety — and alcohol, though not in the same way, said Jami Johnson, assistant director of Oklahoma's poison control center. These are some of the products sold by Whitney Waller, who operates an essential oils business from her home in Edmond.