The Texas Poison Center Network wants to warn people about the potential dangers involving COVID-19 at-home test kits. Since COVID-19 at-home test kits are available to every home in the U.S, over 60 million people have ordered them. Poison centers are receiving calls, and many of these calls come from people (mainly small children) ingesting the liquid, also known as the reagent, in the COVID at-home test kits.
The chemicals in the test kits can vary, but the most common chemical in test kits is called sodium azide. You might be familiar with it because it is the chemical used in airbags to make them deploy. In large quantities, sodium azide is poisonous. Fortunately, the amount of sodium azide in COVID-19 test kits is minimal and mainly used as a preservative.
It is important to read the directions thoroughly as this chemical is not meant for ingestion. It should be kept locked, up and away, and out of reach of children. Accidentally swallowing it could cause nausea and vomiting. If accidentally splashed or used in the eye, it could cause burning and irritation. Make sure to clean your eye out with warm water for at least 30 seconds and call poison control at 1-800-222-1222 right away.
For more information on COVID-19 at-home test kits or any concerns regarding these kits, don't hesitate to get in touch with your local poison center any day or time of the week. We staff specialists in poison information who are ready to take your call and bring you peace of mind when you need it the most.