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Cleaning agent oxalic acid looks like sugar, kills quickly

Oxalic acid, the toxic substance that police investigators blame for the deaths of those killed in the recent milk tea poisoning in Manila, appears harmless enough in its crystalline form as it looks like sugar or salt.

A little amount, however, is enough to be deadly. Forty milligrams or less than a teaspoon will kill a adult; a pinch could kill a child.

Authorities warned that oxalic acid be stored properly since it is also used in the household as a cleaning agent.

It's colorless when mixed with other liquids like water but is sour to the taste.

"Sana mailayo natin ito sa mga bata at sa kusina dahil ginagamit po ito sa ating mga lababo," said Dr. Victoria Abesamis, the chief of the medical staff at the East Avenue Medical Center.

Oxalic acid already figured in a food-poisoning incident in 2007 when 60 persons where hospitalized after oxalic acid crystals were mistaken for salt and were used as an ingredient in one of the meals in a feeding program in Compostela Valley.

Abesamis said persons who ingested oxalic acid shouldn't be made to vomit as the acid would further damage the digestive tract.

The first aid, she said, would be to give four to six egg whites if the victim is a child; six to eight egg whites if an adult.

The victim should then be brought immediately to the nearest hospital.

Police investigators said that oxalic acid were found in the remains of Ergo Cha milk tea shop owner William Abrigo and customer Suzanne Dagohoy.

"Yung kanilang blood samples at yung knailang gastric contents were found positive for the presence of oxalic acid," said Chief Supt. Theresa Cid, chief of the PNP Crime Laboratory.

Traces of oxalic acid were also reportedly found in shop utensils and even in milk team powder samples. -NB, GMA News