NSW Health is alerting the public to the potential dangers of weight-loss products which contain the chemical, 2,4-dinitrophenol, or DNP.
Products containing the chemical may be known as ‘Shredders’ and are marketed to the fitness, weight loss and body building communities.
Several deaths from taking the chemical DNP have been reported overseas and more recently in Australia.
DNP prevents energy being stored as fat; instead the energy is released as heat. This increases body temperature which can damage the cells of organs such as muscle, kidney and brain.
Clinical Toxicologist and Intensive Care Physician at the NSW Poisons Information Centre, Dr Kylie McArdle said DNP is a dangerous chemical.
"There is a myth that if used in small amounts, users will be safe but DNP is an extremely toxic substance,” said Dr McArdle.
“There is no antidote and even with our best medical care, people can and have died using products containing the chemical.”
NSW Health is urging the public to avoid products marketed online that name this chemical, or any product from an unverified source being promoted as a weight-loss agent.
People can become seriously unwell within hours of ingesting DNP.
Anyone seeking further information can call the NSW Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26. For any person with symptoms following known or suspected ingestion, phone 000 immediately.