Health Canada warns against exposing skin to rapid antigen test solution

Feb 25 2022, 7:06 pm

After an increase in reports to poison control centres, Health Canada has issued a warning about potential health risks to accidental exposure to the COVID-19 rapid antigen test kit solutions.

While the agency has determined that the kits are safe when used as intended, it found that chemical preservatives in the liquid solution like sodium azide and Proclin may be poisonous if swallowed or absorbed through the skin.

“Small doses of sodium azide can lower blood pressure, and larger doses may cause more serious health effects,” explained Health Canada in a public advisory posted on Thursday. “Proclin is also found in many kits. It contains chemicals that can cause skin and eye irritation, as well as allergic reactions.”

The advisory states that accidental ingestion or skin exposure to small quantities of the liquid solution may cause harm, particularly to small children and pets.

Health Canada says that it’s aware of approximately 50 calls that have been made to poison control centres related to accidental exposure.

The agency reiterated that the kits are safe and effective, but that the advisory is filling the labelling gap that doesn’t describe the risks associated with misuse or accidental ingestion.

This is what you should do when using the test kits, according to Health Canada:

  • Keep rapid antigen test kits and solutions out of the reach of children and pets
  • Do not swallow the solutions, and avoid eye and skin contact
  • Wash hands thoroughly after use
  • If spillage occurs, rinse well with water
  • Follow all instructions for proper disposal
  • Report any health product-related side effects or complaints to Health Canada
  • Contact your local Poison Information and Control Centre in cases of accidental ingestion of chemicals or direct skin exposure
Isabelle DoctoIsabelle Docto

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