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Health Experts Issue Warning To Parents About At-Home Rapid COVID Tests

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- At-home COVID tests have become part of daily life for many people because of the highly contagious Omicron variant. However, doctors are urging parents to keep something in mind when it comes to their children.

A doctor with UPMC said it's safe to use at-home rapid tests on your kids when testing for COVID. What he said isn't safe is your child ingesting the liquid contained in the test.

At-home rapid COVID tests come in handy, but they can also cause unnecessary stress if your child ingests the liquid in the test when you're not looking. Dr. Tony Pizon, the chief of medical toxicology at UPMC and medical director at the Pittsburgh Poison Center, said the concern is an ingredient called sodium azide, which is in the liquid contained in some at-home tests.

"It's a poison, if you will," Pizon said. "Everything is a poison to a toxicologist. It's all based on dose."

Pizon said the amount of sodium azide inside the bottles is extremely small and very dilute, but that doesn't mean your child can't get sick if they drink it by accident.

"It can lower your blood pressure like we had mentioned," he said. "Dizziness, lightheadedness, headache ... There could be serious symptoms as well. Passing out, extremely low blood pressure."

So far, Pizon hasn't seen anyone come to the hospital or call the poison control center with concerns, but if you do have a question or think your child took a drink of the liquid, he said you should take action right away.

"If there is a concern, call the poison center," Pizon said. "We can always help direct people."

In addition to ingesting the liquid, Pizon said he has heard stories about adults confusing the liquid for eye drops, something he also hasn't dealt with locally.

"(With) some of the COVID tests, that little dropper looks like an eye dropper, and silly things happen," Pizon said.

A spokesperson with Allegheny Health Network said the group's pediatricians haven't seen any issues locally, either.

Anyone with questions can call the Pittsburgh Poison Center at (800) 222-1222.


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