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Poison centers nationwide report that nearly 2,000 incidents have been reported so far this year involving children five years of age and younger who were exposed to the concentrated laundry detergent in Tide Pods and similar single-load packets.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) issued a warning last week, indicating that at least 1,922 reports of problems with Tide Pods and other laundry detergent packs between January 1 and March 31, 2018.
Each of the incidents involved young children, suggesting that the issues seen in recent years with laundry pod poisoning do not appear to be resolved or diminishing.
The AAPCC stresses that poisoning incidents linked to laundry pods are different from those where children have consumed or been exposed to normal laundry detergent, because of their highly concentrated nature.
“Some children who have gotten the product in their mouths have had excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping. Some get very sleepy. Some have had breathing problems serious enough to need a ventilator to help them breathe,” the AAPCC warns. “There have also been reports of corneal abrasions (scratches to the eye) when the detergent gets into a child’s eyes.”
Single-load laundry detergent pods have become increasingly popular in households across the United States. The growth in popularity has also resulted in increased numbers of laundry pod child poisoning and exposures incidents, with thousands of emergency room visits needed each year due to child ingestion, after young children placed the pods into their mouth
Tide Pods and other products are brightly colored and contain clear, opaque plastic coatings, which can confuse children or mentally handicapped individuals into thinking they are candy or toys, which they then place in their mouths or attempt to eat.
The CPSC first began to voice concerns about children suffering laundry detergent poisoning from the small packs in 2012, when warnings were issued that urged caregivers to be aware of the risks and to store the products out of sight and reach of children.
The incidents peaked in 2015, when poison centers received more than 12,000 exposure reports involving children five and under. Recent years have trended slightly downward, as manufacturers made several design changes and more parents become aware of the risks. However, if the current rate continues, this year would still result in about 8,000 exposure reports involving young children.
Those numbers do not include poisoning incidents linked to teenagers and adults. Earlier this year, the AAPCC noted that it has seen a spike in intentional ingestion of Tide Pods and other detergent packets among teenagers, due to an internet “Tide Pod Challenge” that encourages eating the pods on purpose.
The AAPCC reports that it received 215 reports of intentional laundry pod poisoning among teens in the first three months of 2018.
A number of laundry pod exposure lawsuits have been filed against various manufacturers, alleging that inadequate steps were taken to ensure the safety of the products. Plaintiffs say stronger warnings should have been provided about the importance of keeping the pods out of the reach of children, and that individual packaging for the pods would reduce the risk of injury.
In the event a child, teen or any individual is exposed to any laundry detergent, parents and caregivers should call their local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately and have the child medically evaluated at an emergency department.