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Laundry Detergent Pod Poisonings Lead to Consumer Reports Warning

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As part of National Poison Prevention Week, which runs from March 17 to 23, a consumer watchdog group is highlighting the continuing risk of laundry detergent pods poisoning, as young children continue to suffer severe illnesses after chewing on the small, brightly colored capsules.

Consumer Reports is renewing calls for laundry pod detergent manufacturers to develop child-safe packaging and more effective warning labels. The group indicates that there has been a large spike in laundry pod poisonings among children in recent years, outpacing reports of poisoning linked to normal detergent products.

“Since early 2012, poison-control centers nationwide have received reports of nearly 7,700 pod-related exposures to children age 5 years and younger,” the organization reports. By comparison, there were 7,800 conventional detergent exposures in 2011. That sounds comparable until you consider that detergent pods only make up 6% of the laundry detergent market.

In November, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a laundry detergent pod poisoning safety alert, highlighting the risks of the pods to children.

Laundry packs are small capsules that contain detergent, which are meant to be simply dropped into a washing machine without the need to measure or handle the liquid itself.

The products are often bright and colorful, and can be mistaken by children as some form of toy or candy.  Many also resemble teething toys, which toddlers commonly chew on.

Nearly all the reported exposures involved an unintentional incident, where children came into contact with the pods accidentally. A large number of children developed severe symptoms beyond vomiting, such as gastrointestinal problems, respiratory adverse health effects, and changes in mental status.

In response to the poisoning concerns, the CPSC recommended the following safety steps last year to prevent unintentional laundry detergent packet poisoning:

  • Do not let children handle laundry detergent packets.
  • Keep detergent packets sealed in their original packaging, and ensure that they are locked up, out of sight and reach of children.
  • Call Poison Help immediately at 1-800-222-1222 if the packets are swallowed or exposed to the eye.

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