Glow sticks can be dangerous for kids

Glow sticks, necklaces and bracelets are bright and colorful and lots of fun. They’re very popular on Independence Day, at concerts and birthday parties — and on Halloween.

But looks can be deceiving. “Calls about glow sticks are very common at the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center, especially at this time of year,” said Ashley Webb, board-certified toxicologist and director of the center. “Often, parents call when a child breaks open or bites open the glow stick. The child is crying — and often glowing.”

The chemical inside these glowing items is called dibutyl phthalate. It is not considered poisonous, but it can irritate the eyes, skin and mouth, causing stinging and burning that can be frightening to kids and parents. To remove the chemical and help relieve symptoms, wash the skin, rinse the mouth or flush the eyes with clean water for 15 minutes.

To help prevent breakage and exposure to the liquid inside, do not allow children to chew on glow sticks or jewelry and discard used items.

For more information, call (800) 222-1222 or (502) 589-8222, the Emergency Hotline of the Kentucky Regional Poison Control Center of Kosair Children’s Hospital. It’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

–Stephanie Doyle