CINCINNATI (WXIX) – Covid-19 test kits at home can contain a harmful, toxic substance, according to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
The Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center reports an increase in inadvertent exposure to a potentially toxic substance in the home’s COVID-19 test kit, Children’s Hospital announced in a blog on its website.
Poison control centers nationwide report the same finding.
This comes as more than 50 million households recently received free COVID-19 home tests from the federal government, according to White House COVID-19 Response Teams Senior Advisor, Dr. Tom Inglesby.
The substance of concern is called the reagent liquid.
It is used to trigger the chemical reaction that detects the presence of coronavirus.
The concern ingredient in this liquid is a chemical called sodium azide, which is used as a preservative in these kits, ”says the children’s blog.
“The most common inquiries to poison centers have been about children exploring their environment and finding the small bottle of reagent liquid and putting it in their mouth or spilling it on themselves.
“In adults, there have been cases of ‘container confusion’ where the bottle is confused with eye drops.”
The types of test kits vary, but they generally contain a cotton swab, test card, and extraction vial containing the reagent fluid. When swallowed, the sodium azide in it can cause headaches and lower blood pressure.
In large quantities, according to the children’s hospital, it can cause seizures.
“The good news is that the amount of sodium azide in these products is small. These products are a perfect example of ‘the dose does the poison’, it says on the blog.
“In most cases so far, children have just tasted the liquid and they have done ok. But the person’s weight and the amount of fluid ingested make a difference in how severe a reaction they may experience.”
To prevent accidental poisoning from COVID-19 home test kits, poison control centers recommend the following tips:
Keep the set “up and away” out of the reach of children and pets.
Leave the kit sealed until needed and discard immediately after use.
Be sure to read and follow the instructions on the package before use
Officials from the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center say they are always free to answer questions if someone is exposed to the test kit liquid.
Call them 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.
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