Laundry Detergent Pods Driving Increase in Child Poisoning

(Photo: Mike Mozart, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Mike Mozart, Creative Commons)

Scientists are warning parents of young children take care when using the colorful, handy, super-concentrated laundry pods on the market because of a startling rise in cases of poisoning in small children.

The lead scientist in a recent study, Dr. Gary Smith, explained the risk in bold terms.

"All they have to do is put them in their mouth and bite down and the packet will burst, and once these toxic chemicals get down their throat the game's over."

The analysis was done by reviewing calls to poison control centers to discover how many phone-ins were connected to the laundry detergent pods. The information the study uncovered was serious. In 2013 and 2014, poisoning calls linked to the packets rose by 17%. The study was published in the journal Pediatrics.

During the years analyzed, poisonings from laundry detergents in general increased, but the highest rise was in pod poisonings, said Shelley Hazen, reporting for Inquisitr.

In fact, over 22,000 children under the age of three came in contact with the detergent packets during the period of the research. Of them, 30% were on their way to the hospital when the calls were made.

Over 30% of the time, the age of the children who suffered poisoning from the packets was two-years-old. Two-year-olds made up 17% of the poisoning from dishwasher detergent.

Of the more than 62,000 calls made to emergency rooms because of incidents with the detergents, 17 young ones went into comas, six stopped breathing, four suffered fluid in their lungs and trouble breathing, and two passed away.

Other negative results for children who unknowingly handle or put the detergent in their mouths are vomiting, throat burns, and eye injuries.

According to Smith, 60% of the calls involved the laundry detergent pods.

"That's about 30 children a day, or one child about every 45 minutes. Over the two years of the study, poisoning from detergent packets increased 17 percent, and in 2015 there was another 7 percent increase."

The pods came on the scene in 2012 and were advertised as a cleaner product than powdered forms. But, as it turns out, the packets are more toxic than other detergents. The chemical composition and concentration may be the reason for the higher toxicity. The plastic containers can be filled with dry granules or liquid, but the liquid is more toxic.

Proctor & Gamble, which makes Gain and Tide, has produced ad campaigns emphasizing safety in homes that use the pods and has made the products' packaging more child protective, reports CNN Wire. But researchers recommend that parents with children under the age of six use only traditional laundry detergents.

Researchers added that a 14% increase in calls to poison centers concerned exposure to detergent pods for dishwashers.

CBS News' Ashley Welch quotes Smith:

"Children at this age will explore their environment by putting things in their mouth and if they simply bite down on one of these things, they'll burst and those contents will shoot to the back of their throat."

Symptoms that a child is in danger include swelling, drooling, choking, difficulty breathing, and coughing. Any of these signs means parents should seek medical assistance immediately. Other companies that manufacture these products include Arm & Hammer and Purex.

Smith said he does not like the fact that the manufacturers are putting the responsibility on parents to keep the pods away from children, writes The Columbus Dispatch's Lori Kurtzman. Parents cannot watch their kids 100% of the time, he added. If safety measures are not taken by the companies that make the packets, he said it is time to take them off the market.

04 26, 2016
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