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Detergent Pods Carry Eye Injury Risks for Children: Study

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While recent concerns have focused on the potential laundry detergent pod poisoning risks associated with young children chewing on the popular, single-use packs, a new report suggests that the products also pose a serious risk of eye injuries if the liquid accidentally gets into the eyes of children. 

Several different manufacturers have introduced detergent packets, pods or capsules in recent years, containing the amount of detergent needed for a single load of laundry or dishes.

Many of the detergent packs are sold in colorful, soft plastic capsules that dissolve in the washing machine. Many children have been found chewing on the packets, as they often resemble infant teething toys and are sold in packaging that resembles a candy or snack food.

Amid thousands of reports involving laundry detergent poisoning problems reported to poison control centers nationwide involving children under the age of 5, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), American Association of Poison Control Centers and others have been working to increase awareness about the risk of detergent packet injuries.

While most of the attention has focused on the risks associated with children swallowing the highly concentrated laundry detergent, a recent study published in the Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus indicates that many children are being treated for eye injuries after squeezing the liquid from detergent pods into their eyes.

Researchers highlighted 10 consecutive cases of children injured by the pods during 2012, with all involving corneal injuries from exposure to the detergent liquid. All of the cases were reported within a nine month period involving children under the age of four.

During the same period, at least 21 children were also treated after ingesting the liquid from the laundry detergent pods. However, the report provides no other information about the effects of these exposures.

The authors say that warnings about the risks detergent pods may pose for children and safety features designed to prevent children from accessing the packets are not available on all products, especially generic brands. They indicate that more needs to be done to warn parents about the importance of keeping the detergent pods out of reach of children.

Ongoing Safety Concerns

Following a spike in reports of injuries after single-use laundry and dishwasher detergent pods were introduced in 2010, many manufacturers have faced pressure to implement new safeguards and raise awareness about the injury risk.

The CPSC launched a Poison Prevention Information System in March 2014 to highlight potentially hidden dangers in the home, including the risks associated with laundry detergent pods.

Despite the efforts to increase awareness about the risks of laundry detergent pod poisonings, poison control centers continue to report increased number of poisonings. By mid-2014 more than 5,600 reports of poisonings involving children under the age of five were received. Offering an expected total of more than 10,000 poisoning reports for the year.

Health experts warn parents to keep all laundry products out of the reach of children, especially the detergent pods which appeal to kids. They also advise detergent pods remain sealed in their original packaging.

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