Boy, 8, blinded in one eye after playing with desiccant packet in snack

Boy, 8, blinded in one eye after playing with desiccant packet in snack
PHOTO: Weibo

Many parents may not think much of the little packet of desiccant that is commonly packaged with food, but a harrowing tale circulating on Chinese media this week is likely to make them far more cautious.

After finishing his store-bought snack, eight-year-old Keke poured the desiccant into a bottle filled with water, Legal Evening News reported.

He wasn't expecting it to explode, but it did, and some of the fluid got into his eye.

After hearing his screams, Keke's mother rushed to him and flushed his eyes with water.

But it was too late when he arrived at the hospital. The alkaline solution had corroded the boy's right eye and blinded him, his doctor said.

According to Strait Herald, the incident took place in 2015, but the report resurfaced on Chinese social media in August 2016 and in December this year.

Desiccants usually contain silica gel which is generally safe for use
Photo: Pixabay

Desiccants are often packaged with food to absorb moisture and keep food fresh, according to the China Association for Science and Technology.

They usually contain silica gel which is generally safe for use because of its non-toxic and chemically inert nature.

However, the drying agent involved in this case is believed to be lime desiccant.

It is made of calcium oxide which chemically reacts when combined with water. This process generates a lot of heat quickly and forms calcium hydroxide which is highly alkaline with a pH value of 12.4.

When the container is unable to accommodate the steam, an explosion occurs.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time such an incident has happened.

Over the past few years, there have been several reports of children getting chemical burns when they played with lime desiccants.

It's best to discard them after use or keep them away from children's reach if parents intend to reuse the drying agents, experts advise.

minlee@sph.com.sg

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