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COVID-19 Home Test Kit Dangers: What parents need to know

COVID-19 Home Test Kit Dangers: What parents need to know
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 10:06 AM EST|Updated: Feb. 22, 2022 at 10:09 AM EST
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - At-home COVID-19 test kits could contain a harmful, toxic substance, according to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

The Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center is reporting an uptick in accidental exposures to a possibly toxic substance in at-home COVID-19 test kits, 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 at-home COVID-19 tests from the federal government, according to the White House COVID-19 response team’s senior adviser, Dr. Tom Inglesby.

The substance that is a concern is called the reagent liquid.

It is used to trigger the chemical reaction that detects the presence of coronavirus.

The ingredient of worry in this liquid is a chemical called sodium azide, which is used as a preservative in these kits,” Children’s blog says.

“The most common calls to poison centers have been about children exploring their environment and finding the small bottle containing reagent liquid and putting it in their mouth or spilling it on themselves.

“In adults, there have been cases of ‘container confusion,’ with the bottle being mistaken for eye drops.”

The types of test kits vary, but they generally contain a swab, testing card and an extraction vial containing the reagent liquid. When the liquid is swallowed, the sodium azide in it can cause a headache and lower the blood pressure.

In large amounts, it can cause seizures, according to Children’s Hospital.

“The good news is that the amount of sodium azide in these products is small. These products are a perfect example of ‘the dose makes the poison,” the blog reads.

“In most cases so far, children have just had a taste of the liquid and they have done OK. But the weight of the person and the amount of liquid ingested make a difference in how severe a reaction they may experience.”

To prevent accidental poisonings from the COVID-19 home test kits, poison control centers recommend the following tips:

  • Store the kit “up and away,” out of the sight and reach of children and pets.
  • Leave the kit sealed until needed and throw it away immediately after use.
  • Make sure to read and follow the instructions on the package before using

Officials with the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center say they are always free to answer any questions if someone becomes exposed to the test kit liquid.

Call them 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.

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