Press Releases

House Passes Trahan’s Youth Poisoning Protection Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Congresswoman Lori Trahan’s (MA-03)Youth Poisoning Protection Act, bipartisan legislation that would ban the consumer sale of products containing high concentrations of sodium nitrite, a meat-curing chemical that can be lethal when ingested. The legislation was introduced last year along with Representatives Mike Carey (R-OH-15), Katie Porter (D-CA-47), and Chris Stewart (R-UT-02) as well as Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and JD Vance (R-OH).

“The Youth Poisoning Protection Act is urgently needed to limit consumer access to high concentrations of a dangerous, toxic chemical that’s being promoted online as a method to die by suicide,” Congresswoman Trahan said during debate over the bill on the House floor. “It solely seeks to end the straight to consumer sale of highly concentrated Sodium Nitrite that is helping fuel the efforts of anonymous suicide forum users pushing vulnerable people to end their lives. It’s simple, it’s straightforward, and it has the potential to save lives.”

A 2021 New York Times investigation into an online suicide forum found that sodium nitrite was being popularized and encouraged as an easily accessible method to die by suicide. The forum, which is disguised as a safe place to discuss suicidal ideation, hosts threads where anonymous users provide detailed instructions and real-time guidance on how to die by suicide using sodium nitrite. A 2021 toxicology publication based on data from the National Poison Data System (NPDS), one of the data sources used by the CDC, points to a rise in self-poisonings using sodium nitrite in the United States since 2017.

There is no known recreational use for highly concentrated amounts of sodium nitrite, but at the time of the Times’investigation, highly concentrated amounts of the poison were widely available on e-commerce platforms, including availability with free two-day shipping on Amazon. Following outcry from lawmakers and victims’ families, Amazon and a number of other online marketplaces began removing sodium nitrite listings. Last year, a Canadian citizen wasarrested and charged for shipping packages containing lethal amounts of sodium nitrite to over 40 countries, including 272 sales to individuals in the United Kingdom, of whom at least 88 people died.

The Youth Poisoning Protection Act bans the sale of consumer products with a concentration of sodium nitrite greater than 10 percent.

The legislation is endorsed by a number of independent organizations, including Consumer Reports, Public Citizen, Consumer Federation of America, National Consumers League, the Crisis Text Line, and leading medical experts. A full list of endorsing organizations and quotes of support can be accessed HERE.

If you or someone you know is having suicidal thoughts, feeling at risk of suicide, or experiencing a state of distress, it is crucial to find help immediately. There are many resources available, including the 988 Suicide & Crisis Hotlinewhich provides free, confidential support 24/7, and the Crisis Text Line which offers free crisis counseling 24/7. Dial 988 or text HOME to 741741 to connect with these services.