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More than 12,500 incidents of children exposed to single-use laundry detergent pods were reported to poison centers nationwide in 2015, according to federal poison control officials.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reports that more than 12,594 incidents were received last year involving children ages 5 and younger, which is a rate of more than 1,000 incidents per month.
As the brightly colored packs have increased in popularity in recent years, so have reports of laundry pod poisonings among children or mentally handicapped individuals who placed them in their mouths or bit into the gel packs, which are often brightly colored and resemble teething toys. Despite recent efforts to reduce the risk of laundry pod exposure, last year saw the highest number of reports in any one year on record.
Given the concentrated nature of the laundry detergent, ingesting the liquid contained in the pods may cause a severe and potentially life-threatening poisoning injury.
“Poison centers receive many calls each year about children getting into laundry detergent,” the AAPCC reports. “Swallowing it often causes mild stomach upset, if there are any symptoms at all, but poison center experts say the new highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry detergent packets seem to be different.”
Children who get the laundry detergent in their mouths may experience excessive vomiting, gasping, fatigue, breathing problems, and the effects can be fatal. There have also been reports of corneal abrasions when the detergent has made contact with the eyes, and skin irritation problems after exposure to the contents of the packets.
A number of laundry pod exposure lawsuits have been filed against various manufacturers of the products, alleging that inadequate steps were taken to ensure the safety of the products. The claims allege that 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.
The AAPC advises parents to be aware of the risks with laundry detergent containers, and to call their local poison center at (800) 222-1222 if a child has come into contact with the contents of a laundry pod