The Poisoning Risk of Laundry Detergent Pods

Fred's Appliance
November 19, 2014


Doctors and health officials across the country are warning parents about the dangers of using laundry detergent pods. While tossing a small coin-sized pod into the washing machine is convenient, children are showing up at hospital emergency rooms after consuming them. To learn more about this disturbing trend and whether or not you should stop using detergent pods, keep reading.


According to a recent study conducted by Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, there were 17,230 individual phone calls placed to U.S. Poison Control Centers involving the swallowing and/or inhalation of laundry detergent pods involving children 5 years of age or younger. What’s even more shocking is that 66% of these cases involved toddlers between the ages of 1 and 2. Assuming this information is accurate, roughly one child consumed these laundry detergent pods per day in the U.S.


Nationwide Children’s Hospital researchers also narrowed down the effects of consuming laundry pods. They found the single most commonly reported symptom was vomiting, which occurred in 48% of all cases, followed by choking (13%), eye irritation (11%), drowsiness (7%), and mouth pain, burning, and windpipe injuries to a lesser degree.


Granted, most children experienced a full recovery after receiving medical treatment, but several dozen had more serious complications. Researchers note that 30 children went into a coma, 12 experienced seizures, 11 had vomited up blood, 6 had fluid buildup in their lungs, 4 experienced respiratory arrest, and 5 had dangerously slow heartrate.


Laundry detergent pods are new products in the US marketplace that pose a serious poisoning risk to young children. This nationwide study underscores the need for increased efforts to prevent exposure of young children to these products, which may include improvements in product packaging and labeling, development of a voluntary product safety standard and public education,” wrote researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in the study.


So, what should parents do to prevent accidental consumption of laundry detergent pods? Dr. Marcel J. Casavant, chief of toxicology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the study’s co-author, gives a simple answer: parents and families with small children should use other forms of laundry detergent, not the pods.


Casvant also notes that exposure to detergent pods typically occurs when the product is being used. A parent may place the detergent pod on top of the washing machine or dryer while preparing the laundry, at which point the child may grab it, assuming it’s candy.

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