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(LifeSiteNews) — Just weeks after the Biden administration began mailing hundreds of millions of free at-home COVID-19 tests to U.S. families in January, health experts are now reporting that at least some of the test kits contain a toxic substance that has led to a surge in poison center calls across the country.

In a February 16 blog post, the Cincinnati Drug and Poison Information Center reported it had seen “an uptick in accidental exposures” to a reagent liquid included in some at-home COVID test kits.

The liquid, which “is used to trigger the chemical reaction that detects the presence of coronavirus,” contains the potentially toxic ingredient sodium azide, which acts as a preservative.

Sodium azide can cause low blood pressure, dizziness, headaches, and heart palpitations if swallowed in small doses, and larger amounts can cause seizures, loss of consciousness, or even death.

The Biden administration has sent out over 250 million free test kits to American families since January. It’s unclear how many of the kits contain sodium azide.

Risk of exposure to the chemical in at-home COVID tests has led Texas and Ohio to issue warnings about the reagent liquid.

Meanwhile, the National Capital Poison Center (NCPC) has put out its own advisory about the potentially dangerous chemical.

“It is important to know that the extraction vial in many rapid antigen kits includes the chemical sodium azide as a preservative agent,” wrote NCPC Medical Toxicologist Maryann Amirshahi in a statement, noting that the chemical is found in the BinaxNow, BD Veritor, Flowflex, and Celltrion DiaTrust COVID-19 rapid antigen kits.

Amirshahi described sodium azide as “a colorless, tasteless, and odorless powder that has been used as a propellant in automobile airbags, an herbicide, and a pest control agent.”

According to the NCPC statement, the substance is “a very potent poison, and ingestion of relatively low doses can cause significant toxicity.”

However, the center noted that the quantity of sodium azide included in the COVID test kits “is much lower than the amount expected to cause poisoning if swallowed by an adult.”

Accidental exposure to the toxic chemical has reportedly caused relatively mild reactions as people have allegedly confused the extraction vials for eye droppers or squeeze bottles, applying the liquid to their eyes, nose, or skin, causing skin irritation or chemical burns.

Nevertheless, exposure to the reagent liquid has led to a surge in phone calls to hospitals throughout the U.S. after the mass rollout of the kits earlier this year.

“Across the country right now, poison centers are getting a lot of calls due to kind of an unintended consequence of the test kits coming out,” Poison Control media specialist Mike McCormick said.

“Now, the good news is there’s not enough in there that it’s more than likely going to be a fatal toxin, but we have run into a problem,” he added.

“Burning is the thing that you’re really going to come up with,” McCormick explained. “And the eye is, you know, obviously very fragile and so you’re going to know it right away when you do it and it is definitely uncomfortable.”

News of the potentially toxic contents of some of the at-home COVID tests supplied to American families comes as nearly half of the Biden administration’s free COVID at-home test kits have gone unclaimed since they were offered in January, potentially as a result of decreased interest or concern about the coronavirus.

Mainstream polls have recorded high levels of fatigue with COVID measures and mandates, even as public health experts have begun floating a fourth dose of the experimental drugs and the use of N-95 masks.

As public interest in the pandemic wanes and Americans chafe against Democrat COVID policies, politicians in blue states and cities throughout the U.S. have begun rapidly dropping their COVID-19 mandates, vaccine passports, and other restrictions ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.