Detergent Pods Pose Risk to Children, Study Finds
Since the introduction of colorful, single-load packets of laundry detergent in 2012 through the end of 2013, more than 17,000 children under age 6 ate or inhaled the contents or squirted concentrated liquid from a packet into their eyes, researchers reported Monday.Their study is the first to compile all cases reported to the National Poison Data System, confirming fears that accidental poisonings with laundry packets, which many households choose for their convenience, are not uncommon. Because reporting to the database is voluntary, the figure is likely an underestimation, several experts said. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.
Critics contend that some brightly colored packets too closely resemble candy or a teething toy. Two years ago, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested the packets “might represent an emerging public health concern.”
“These 17,000 children we found amounts to one child every hour being exposed to one of these laundry pod products,” said Dr. Marcel J. Casavant, a study author and the medical director of the poison center at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. “That’s a very different order of magnitude than other hazards.”
Most of the cases occurred among children aged 1 or 2, and nearly 80 percent involved ingestion of the contents of a packet. Two deaths of children have been confirmed, one in Florida and another in New Jersey.
Most commonly, children vomited, became lethargic, irritated their eyes, coughed or choked, the researchers found. About 6,000 were seen in emergency rooms. About 750 were hospitalized, and half required intensive care. The laundry packets tend to burst in a child’s mouth, and the concentrated contents can be swallowed all at once.
It doesn’t help that these things look like candy.