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Poison ice tea: one more dang thing to worry about

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report yesterday on the case of extreme food poisoning at a Dallas County Texas restaurant in 2010.

Symptoms, which included fainting resulting from low blood pressure, occurred within minutes of consuming food from the restaurant and were consistent with chemical poisoning.

The culprit was discovered after extensive lab tests: Sodium Azide, "an odorless, tasteless, water-soluble crystalline powder that has been used in the manufacture of automobile airbags and explosives, and as a laboratory preservative."

It was found in the ice-tea and it's inconclusive whether the powder got in the tea accidentally or intentionally.

All four victims fully recovered. It wasn't the first case of this kind of poisoning.

 In 2009, six workers at Harvard Medical School became ill after drinking from a communal coffee pot that was contaminated with sodium azide; whether or not the poisoning was intentional is unknown (3). Within minutes of ingestion, the laboratory workers had palpitations and diaphoresis; two fainted. All of their symptoms rapidly resolved. In 1998, sodium azide was deliberately added to a teapot in Niigata, Japan, poisoning nine persons.

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Spokesman-Review features writer Rebecca Nappi, along with writer Catherine Johnston of Olympia, Wash., discuss here issues facing aging boomers, seniors and those experiencing serious illness, dying, death and other forms of loss.