DNP warning: Scottish authorities seize ‘deadly’ powder

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

DNP warning: Scottish authorities seize ‘deadly’ powder
Scotland’s Food Standards agency has issued a warning on the dangers of DNP after a ‘potentially deadly’ quantity of powder believed to be the banned substance.

Food Standards Scotland’s Scottish Food Crime & Incidents Unit seized the powder – suspected to be 2,4 dinitrophenol (DNP).

Despite being illegal for human consumption, DNP remains on sale online and in some gyms. Commonly used as a diet aid, DNP has severe side effects and has been responsible for at least eight deaths in the UK since 2015.

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A lethal history

DNP was marketed in the US 1930s as a weight loss aid – due to its ability to rapidly burn fat. It was soon withdrawn after serious side effects and deaths occurred as a result of its use.

Despite health warnings, DNP is still used by some bodybuilders in order to facilitate rapid weight reduction and reduce the thickness of subcutaneous fat. However, the substance is extremely toxic with fatal doses, in some cases, of as low as 1-3 grams.

Documented symptoms​ of overdose include hyperthermia, elevated heartrate, profuse sweating and rapid breathing, eventually leading to death. At lower doses, adverse effects to the nervous system, heart and blood vessels can occur as well as skin rash and cataracts.

DNP related poisoning has led to a number of serious cases needing hospitalisation in the UK, Netherlands and France during 2017.

In the UK alone, between 2007 and 2016 DNP was mentioned on the death certificate as being involved in 15 fatalities. (Source: Office of National Statistics​)

Use continues despite ban

The continuing use of DNP in bodybuilding competitions has been verified in Holland by traces of the substance being detected in sewage water near to the buildings where such events take place.

Although banned extensively in Europe and the U.S., and withdrawn by all reputable internet retailers, DNP is still available to purchase on some internet sites and viia peer-to peer online sources, in addition to through illicit personal supply networks into gyms themselves.

In recent years it has become common for the substance to be sold via social media, as tablets or capsules, where it has become popular amongst some people wanting to lose weight rapidly, including bodybuilders and people with eating disorders.

However, an international effort to stamp out the production and sale of supplements containing DNP has been ongoing in recent years, with authorities in Sweden, the Netherlands and the UK  among others all highly focused on targeting the banned substance and shutting down traders of illicit supplements that contain the deadly substance.

Despite the recent crackdown, Food Standards Scotland reports that sales of DNP have been increasing in the UK. As such the agency reiterated that the substance is illegal to sell for human consumption and doing so could lead to a criminal prosecution.

“The dangers of DNP have been well documented over recent years but people need to be aware that it can have serious consequences and even kill them,”​ commented Ron McNaughton, Head of the Scottish Food Crime & Incidents Unit. “It’s vital that no-one puts themselves at risk by taking DNP.”

“If you suspect you’ve been sold a product containing DNP or have any information about it being sold for weight loss, then please do not take it. Report it to our hotline on 0800 028 7926.”

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