July 29, 2014 — The popularity of single-use laundry detergent pods has boomed in recent years. Unfortunately, so has the number of incidents in which children were poisoned after mistaking the colorful packets of detergent for candy.
According to Consumer Reports, poison control centers have received over 20,000 calls concerning incidents involving children 5 years old or younger since the pods went mainstream in 2012.
The consumer safety experts warned:
“The highly-concentrated detergents can cause severe symptoms, including excessive vomiting, lethargy, and gasping. In some cases, victims stopped breathing and required ventilation support.”
The problem is with the packaging. Each packet is colorful, sweet-smelling, and candy-sized. When they first came out, major manufacturers packaged them in clear containers that looked just like snack jars. The flimsy lids were not child-proof.
Facing criticism, many products were re-designed with opaque containers — including Costco’s Kirkland brand detergent and Proctor & Gamble’s Tide Pods. Although some manufacturers have improved the design, poisonings continue to occur.
Parents should keep the products locked up high and out of reach of children.
Each packet contains a highly-concentrated amount of laundry detergent. A child’s saliva can dissolve the soft packets, causing the contents to leak onto the child’s mouth, eyes, or skin. The most common complications include vomiting, skin burns, eye irritation, coughing, choking, wheezing, lethargy, seizure, and more. In severe incidents, children have had to be intubated and placed on a breathing machine. The onset of symptoms is usually rapid.
- Call your local poison center as 1-800-222-1222 immediately if you think a child has been exposed to a packet of highly concentrated liquid laundry detergent.
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