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Trick or treat tip: Don't bite the glow sticks

  • Article by: Jeremy Olson
  • Star Tribune
  • October 28, 2013 - 10:23 PM

Kids will gobble their candy hoards this Thursday night, but poison experts at Hennepin County Medical Center have an important dietary tip: Please pass on the glow sticks.

Turns out, Halloween and Independence Day are prime time for calls to the Minnesota Poison Control System about children accidentally swallowing the luminous contents inside glow sticks, or getting the goo in their eyes.

Poison control gets 500 to 600 calls annually about glow products, with one in five coming in October.

While the filling is “not very poisonous,” officials nonetheless issued an alert Monday in advance of trick-or-treating. “We want to advocate never having any exposures,” said Kirk Hughes, the poison center’s education director. “Unfortunately, they do occur.”

Five-year-old Maisy Groethe of Minneapolis won’t be bearing any glow sticks this Halloween night. She bit on a glow bracelet she received at a birthday party on Saturday and felt a burning in her throat when the liquid spilled out. (She was trying to fix the bracelet when it came apart and fell off her wrist.)

Her mom, Adele, called Poison Control to find out what to do.

“I don’t know where this stuff is made and what it is,” she said.

The glow inside glow products is typically caused by a chemical reaction that creates dibutyl phthalate, Hughes said. The substance will create a burning sensation if swallowed and cause irritation to skin and the eyes.

A visit to the ER or a doctor isn’t required unless children have chest pains or difficulty breathing, he said. Parents should give food or drink to children who ingest the goo, and rinse the eyes of children who get it in their eyes.

Adele Groethe said that her daughter is feeling better but that she still complains of throat soreness. By coincidence, Adele said a friend’s child broke a glowing wand recently and the contents sprayed his eyes.

“He was screaming,” she said. “He was terrified.”

She’ll stick with a flashlight to monitor her trick-or-treaters this week.

Jeremy Olson • 612-673-7744

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