Some rapid COVID-19 test kits have small amount of toxic chemical, poison center says

At home covid test
Posted at 10:37 AM, Feb 24, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-24 10:38:40-05

(WXYZ) — The National Capital Poison Center reports on its website that many rapid home COVID-19 antigen tests have a small amount of sodium azide in vials and recommends the kits be disposed of properly to avoid accidental use or consumption.

They note the risk of poisoning is low when the tests are used and then disposed of properly.

According to the poison center, the extraction vial in many kits helps create a chemical reaction to indicate a positive or negative test result.

The chemical sodium azide is reportedly a preservative agent in rapid antigen kits, including BinaxNow, BD Veritor, Flowflex and Celltrion DiaTrust.

Sodium azide, if swallowed, can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, headache, and heart palpitations. The National Capital Poison Center says low doses can cause significant toxicity, although the amount in the kits is “much lower than the amount expected to cause poisoning if swallowed by an adult.” The center warns that some people may mistake the vials for eye droppers and possibly confuse them with medications. It can also reportedly cause skin irritation or chemical burns if spilled on the skin.

The center recommends for eye exposures, to rinse the eyes for 15-20 minutes with warm tap water. For skin exposures, it is recommended to rinse the skin well with tap water. If ingested, the center does not recommend intentional vomiting; people can call Poison Control for guidance at 1-800-222-1222.