DENVER, Colo. (KREX)— Earlier this month we broke the story about the suicide of a Montrose woman allegedly connected to a man in Canada selling sodium nitrite as a so-called ‘suicide kit.’ But what is sodium nitrite?

David Ramirez of Montrose told KREX his 20-year-old daughter Noelle purchased a lethal dose of sodium nitrite online and had it delivered to their home.

It’s an industrial chemical that’s used in a lot of manufactoring processies

Shireen Banerji, Rocky Mountain Poison Center

Shireen Banerji is a Clinical Toxicologist and Managing Director at the Rocky Mountain Poison Center. Banerji told KREX that sodium nitrite is used in food processing, in products like hot dogs, and it shouldn’t threaten humans at low doses.

But if it’s used for the wrong purposes,” It can be very serious even cause death if too much is ingested,” Banerji said. according to Banerji, symptoms of sodium nitrite poisoning include nausea, and vomiting but worse symptoms start as headaches and a rapid heart rate then lead to Methemoglobinemia. Methemoglobinemia (met·hee·muh·glow·buh·nee·mee·uh) is a condition where the body can’t carry oxygen in the normal way.

How often does sodium nitrite poisoning happen?

Banerji said calls about sodium nitrite poisoning to the Rocky Mountain Poison Center are rare, but if you or someone around you might be suffering from sodium nitrite poisoning, “Anybody with life-threatening effects, immediately call 9-1-1.”

These so called harmless or legal chemicals, they’re not harmless and they shouldn’t be legal.

David Ramirez, Montrose father

But just how realistic is a sodium nitrite ban? Banerji said it’s not likely, “There are legitimate reasons to be using sodium nitrite in a variety of different workplace settings and in the food industry.”

The poison help line at Rocky Mountain Poison Center is 1-800-222-1222.