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How to Use and Store At-Home COVID-19 Tests Properly to Avoid Potential Harm

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is alerting people that there is a potential for harm if  at-home COVID-19 tests are not used according to the manufacturer’s test instructions. Here are their recommendations for safe and effective at-home testing:

Recommendations  

  • Keep all parts of at-home COVID-19 test kits out of reach from children and pets before and after use. 
  • Store the at-home COVID-19 test in its box until you are ready to use it. 
  • Follow the manufacturer’s step by step test instructions exactly.  
    • Read the Warning, Precautions, And Safety Information in the test instructions for a description of chemical ingredients and recommendations for safe handling and what to do if they accidentally touch your skin or eyes. 
    • Keep the liquid solution away from the skin, nose, mouth, and eyes. Do not swallow the liquid solution. 
    • Use only the swab in the test kit to collect a nasal sample. 
  • After you perform the test: 
    • Follow all test instructions for how to throw away the used test parts.   
    • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. 

Get medical help right away by contacting your local poison control or health care provider if:  

  • Skin or eye irritation does not go away after exposure. 
  • A person or animal swallows the liquid solution. 

Avoid Potential Harm from Incorrect Use of At-Home COVID-19 Tests 

At-home COVID-19 diagnostic test kits include different parts such as a test cartridge, nasal swab, and small plastic vials containing liquid solutions needed to perform the test. The liquid solutions may include chemical ingredients, such as sodium azide, that help the test work properly or act as preservatives. The test chemicals can be irritating or toxic if they get on your skin, nose, or eyes or if they are swallowed. 

The FDA has received reports of injuries caused by incorrect use of at-home COVID-19 tests, including: 

  • Injuries caused by people accidently putting liquid test solution in their eyes when small vials of test solution were mistaken for eye drops.   
  • Injuries caused by placing nasal collection swabs into the liquid solution prior to swabbing the nose (the liquid solution is not supposed to touch your body).  
  • Injuries caused by children putting test parts in their mouth and swallowing liquid test solution. 

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