Reports of Problems from Laundry Detergent Packets Continue

Despite attempts to raise awareness about the risk of childhood poisonings from laundry detergent packets, reports involving exposure to the single-use pods has continued to increase this year, already surpassing the total number of complaints filed in 2012. 

As of September 30, reports have been received by poison control officials nationwide involving at least 7,669 children ages five and younger exposed to laundry detergent packets, according to information released by the the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC). There were only 6,275 such exposures in all of last year.

Health and safety officials have published reports and issued warnings over the past year to draw attention to the small, colorful laundry detergent packs, which are often mistaken as toys or candy by young children. Many groups and consumers have also called on the manufacturers of the single-load capsules to make make changes to the design and packaging of the products to reduce the risk of problems from laundry detergent pods.

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The efforts came after a number of childhood deaths and other serious injuries occurred among infants and toddlers after they chewed on or bit into the clear capsules. In many cases, the detergent packs are brightly colored, and sold in bowls or bags that are similar to how candy is packaged.

According to the AAPCC, symptoms of laundry detergent poisoning among children generally involve excessive vomiting, wheezing and gasping, excessive sleepiness and serious breathing problems. In some cases children have suffered scratches on their eyes when their eyes were exposed to the detergent inside the pods.

Design Concerns

The laundry detergent packs are meant to be simply dropped into a washing machine without the need to measure or handle the liquid itself. The products are sold under various brand names, including Tide Pods, Purex UltraPacks, all Mighty Packs and others.

In response to increasing pressure, last month the industry began crafting new voluntary safety standards for the laundry detergent packets, and in June the American Cleaning Institute launched a safety campaign aimed at warning parents and caretakers of the dangers of the pods.

According to a safety website on the use and storage of Tide Pods, Proctor & Gamble suggests that even with the new packaging, Tide Pods should be stored out of the reach of children in a locked cabinet.

Earlier this year, Proctor & Gamble indicated that it will begin selling Tide Pods in containers that prevent children from seeing the colorful packs inside, and previously added a double latch to the containers last year. However, some critics have indicated that each laundry detergent packet should be individually wrapped to prevent children from accessing them.

In November, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a laundry detergent pod poisoning safety alert, highlighting the risk the pods may pose for children. In response to the poisoning concerns, the CPSC recommended the following safety steps 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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2 Comments

  • yolandaJune 2, 2015 at 6:12 pm

    gain detergent pod did not dissolve in my washing machine. i was not aware of this pod not dissolving and proceeded to pick up the load in its entirety and tossed the laundry in the dryer. the pod that did not dissolve went into the dryer, and at the end of the drying cycle, the undissolved pod melted on the clothes. what a traumatic time for me. is the company aware of such a dilemma.

  • valerieNovember 11, 2013 at 10:53 pm

    I threw a Purex pod into my washer yesterday (Sunday) it exploded and hit me in the eye. I spent most of the day in the hospirtal having my eye flushed, I was sent to see an eye specialist this morning, as my eye has a large burn spot on it. I will not know until it's healed if I will have sight problem's at the moment my eye is complety closed

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