There's another white powder besides Heroin and Cocaine that you might not hear as much about, but it can be fatal. Caffeine powder, available as a dietary supplement in health food stores and online, has caused a number of hospitalizations and at least one death in recent months. It is not regulated by the federal government at this time.
The powder has been blamed in the death of a high school student in Ohio in May, just weeks away from graduation. The student was a wrestler.
Caffeine -- a widely accepted and legal substance usually found in liquids such as coffee, tea, soda and energy drinks -- can be fatal in doses as small as a teaspoon, or about 3 grams. That is the amount in about 25 cups of coffee, and has the effect of drinking all 25 cups at one time. Children and those with heart conditions are more sensitive to the effects.
Those who use caffeine powder usually do so for additional energy for workouts or studying, or to help them lose weight.
It's not expensive. A jar of 100 grams, equal to about 385 tall servings of Starbucks coffee, costs about . Caffeine powder also is available in a bag of 20 kilograms, which is equal to almost 80,000 tall servings of Starbucks coffee.
The FDA recommends no more than 400 milligrams of caffeine a day. A teaspoon of caffeine powder contains about 3,000 milligrams of caffeine. A teaspoon of instant coffee has about 74 milligrams of caffeine.
Symptoms of a caffeine overdoes include irregular or rapid heartbeat, vomiting, difficulty breathing, confusion, convulsions, diarrhea, hallucinations, and muscle twitches.
The ill effects have drawn the attention of the Food and Drug Administration, which is considering whether it should regulate caffeine powder. And the FDA has begun investigations which have resulted in some companies taking caffeinated products such as caffeine gum off the market.