Poison control center officials are warning parents to keep at-home COVID-19 test kits away from children due to a harmful, toxic substance.
Poison control centers nationwide are reporting an increase in accidental exposures to a possible toxic substance that is found in at-home COVID-19 test kits.
The increase in exposure reports comes after nearly 50 million U.S. households received free at-home COVID-19 tests from the federal government.
The substance that is of concern is sodium azide, which is in the liquid used to activate the chemical reaction that detects the presence of coronavirus.
There is a wide variety of at-home test kits, all varying to some degree. Generally they all contain a swab, testing card and an extraction vial which contains the reagent liquid.
If the sodium azide liquid is swallowed, it can cause a headache and lower the blood pressure. In large doses, it can cause seizures.
Poison control centers are reporting that children who come in contact with the test kits are putting the reagent liquid in their mouth or spilling it on their bodies. There have also been reports that adults are accidentally mistaking the liquid bottle for eye drops.
Experts say that the level of sodium azide found in the test reagent liquid is small and in most of the cases the children who have ingested the liquid have been unharmed.
To prevent any incidents or accidental poisonings from the at-home COVID-19 test kits, poison control centers are recommending the following tips:
- Store the kit away and out of the sight and from reach of children and pets.
- Leave the kit sealed until needed and dispose all parts of the test immediately after use.
- Read and follow the instructions on the package before using.
Contact Poison Control online or by calling 1-800-222-1222.