Poison center doctor warns parents about chemical in some at-home COVID-19 tests

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – At-home COVID-19 tests are more accessible than ever but health officials are warning people to be careful with a certain chemical that comes with some tests.

The concern is about sodium azide, a particular reagent found in four of the available tests. The reagent is used to separate the viral DNA for analysis.

"Although it’s in a very low concentration, it is something that’s incredibly toxic – where less than a milligram can be extremely harmful in a young child," explained Dr. Susan Smolinske, the director of the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center.

Dr. Smolinske says a drop in the child’s blood pressure and, in more mild cases, skin irritation has been reported.

According to the New Mexico Poison and Drug Information Center, there have been over 200 reported exposures nationally. In New Mexico, there have been 8.

"One of the kits that contains this has a fairly larger tube with a dropper bottle, so we’ve had people accidentally put this in their eyes," Dr. Smolinske said.

It is important to throw away the kits when you are done with them and keep them out of reach of children. If you have any questions about exposure, you can call the poison center’s hotline at 1-800-222-1222.