At least 50 calls have been made to poison control centers in Canada due to accidental exposure to certain ingredients in the COVID-19 rapid test kits, which can be toxic if swallowed or absorbed by the skin, Health Canada warns.
In an advisory issued Thursday, the federal department stressed that the tools are safe and effective when used as intended. However, many test kits include liquid solutions that contain chemical preservatives, such as sodium azide and ProClin preservatives that can pose a risk if ingested – especially to children and pets.
“Small doses of sodium azide can lower blood pressure, and larger doses may cause more serious health effects. ProClin is also found in many combinations. It contains chemicals that can cause skin and eye irritation, as well as allergic reactions.” .
It also notes that the various rapid test kits available for people to use from local health units, schools, workplaces, or other avenues may not contain labels or instructions that disclose risks associated with “misuse or accidental ingestion.”
Health Canada recommends the following:
- Keep rapid antigen test kits and solutions out of the reach of children and pets.
- Do not swallow the solutions, and avoid contact with eyes and skin.
- Wash your hands well after use. If spillage occurs, rinse well with water.
- Follow all instructions for proper disposal.
- Report any side effects or complaints related to the health product to Health Canada.
- Contact your local Poison Information and Control Center in cases of accidental ingestion of chemicals or direct skin exposure.