A Chinese rodenticide or rat poison containing tetramethylenedisulfotetramine, also known as TETS, has been illegally imported into the United States. TETS is an odorless, tasteless white powder that is a highly lethal neurotoxin. TETS is not registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use in the United States, and its importation, manufacture, and use in the United States is illegal. TETS has been banned for sale since the mid-1980s but is still widely available in China. Cases of poisoning, both intentional and accidental, have been reported in China. Recently, though, an infant in New York City was poisoned by TETS that the parents brought back from China.
Signs and symptoms of TETS poisoning include refractory seizures, coma, and ischemia. Severe poisoning is usually fatal within 3 hours. Symptoms can begin within 30 minutes to 13 hours after exposure. The substance is most hazardous through ingestion. As little as a pinch can be fatal. Inhalation also could lead to ingestion because the material can be absorbed by mucus membranes. Skin contact is not as hazardous but should be avoided. There is no proven antidote for TETS poisoning.
Suspected TETS products should be reported to local HAZMAT authorities. If exposed immediately follow emergency procedures and contact Universal Poison Control Center at 800-222-1222.
Information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency https://www3.epa.gov/ via Ag-Security Alerts.
This article originally appeared in the 7/11/2003 issue.
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