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Are Glow Sticks Toxic?

Glow sticks are popular during Halloween, 4th of July fireworks. Pet owners put these pieces to their pets' lease or collar. But are they toxic? Let's find out.
Payal Kanjwani Aug 25, 2020

The Upside!

◊ Glow sticks are waterproof and inexpensive. They are tolerant to high pressure, require negligible or no batteries, and are fairly disposable.

◊ These are considered as one of the safest sources of light to be used in times of catastrophic emergencies.
A self-contained source of light or a recreational toy, use it for any reason, but glow sticks are sure alluring. For those who came in late, it is a tube that generates light by a chemical reaction that takes place inside the tube.
They come in a variety of shapes, jewelry items such as necklaces, bracelets, toys for kids, etc. The chemicals in a glow stick that emit light may vary from stick to stick based on the color of light emitted.
If the instructions on the packages of glow sticks are followed carefully, these are some of the safest things possible. But misuse in handling the glow toys, or accidents can be grievous. The chemicals may cause harm and skin allergies if the sticks have been cut open.
They may also cause injury. Kids love cracking them and watching the light glow like a firefly, so they are more likely to get into hapless situations as they can bite into them or get the liquid into their eyes.
The same applies for pets such as cats and dogs. So, are these sticks toxic? Do they cause danger to pets or humans? What are the hazards associated if they are broken and the liquid spills out on skin? Let's find out.

Are Glow Sticks Toxic?

◊ Glow sticks contain chemicals that are not very harmful or poisonous, but should be handled with care.
◊ Most glow sticks contain a chemical called dibutyl phthalate. This oily liquid cannot be called toxin, but an irritant. The quantity in which it is present in glow sticks is minimal, causing less harm. However, if in case you come in contact with this bitter liquid, it may cause mild irritation to skin, eyes, or mouth.
◊ Some of the glow sticks have a small glass vial inside the plastic tube, which when snapped makes the stick glow. This vial contains a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and phthalic ester.
This ampoule is surrounded by a chemical called phenyl oxalate ester. As the tube is cracked for it to create glow, there is a chemical reaction that takes place inside the tube. These chemicals are low in toxicity, but may cause mild irritations.
◊ Pets, especially cats and dogs, easily get attracted towards such glowing products. They will play around with them till they achieve their agenda of breaking the tubes by biting them. There's a possibility that they may ingest this liquid, which can result into causing mouth or throat irritations.
It can also cause skin redness, retching, profuse drooling, etc. Watch out for your pet showing such symptoms. This is because cats and dogs can't puke out this bitter liquid, and may get aggressive and anxious.

Measures To Be Taken

◊ Once the glow stick starts leaking, it is important to purge out the liquid. If the liquid comes in contact with the skin, it can cause chemical burns, blisters, and other skin injuries.
◊ The best treatment for exposure to any of the chemicals mentioned here is water! If any of these chemicals have been spilled on your skin, flush water over it instantly. Go about rinsing it with soapy water, and then apply a coolant or a moisturizer. This will reduce the redness and stinging of skin.
◊ If a child (or anybody) ingests dibutyl phthalate, he/she may experience discomfort and soreness in throat. At such times, you should rinse your mouth with plain water, and have a cold beverage over it. Doctors also suggest consumption of icy cold water and ice cream.
◊ If this chemical comes in contact with your eyes, splash water over it till there's no discomfort. Seek medical help if you still feel the burning sensation in your eyes.
◊ If your pet happens to ingest such chemicals, bulk up its diet with milk, bread, canned food, etc. Once you find it lulled, with a wet cloth, clean its tongue and mouth, and check if its body is glowing in the dark. If you notice lighting, rinse off the affected areas with water and shampoo.
◊ Consult a Poison Center if any sort of irritation persists even after following the mentioned measures.
Well, the packaging on glow products says that they are harmless and non-toxic. Even so, the cautionary advice on them reads not to cut its plastic cover. Glow sticks are fun if you let the chemicals contained in it remain inside.