Approximately 30,000 children have been treated in emergency rooms across the U.S. for poisoning stemming the ingestion of single-use laundry detergent packets, prompting federal safety regulators to coordinate with other governments around the world to raise awareness of this seemingly innocuous threat.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has joined forces with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and an international consortium of government agencies to find ways to halt the threat that laundry packets or pods pose to children as the products soar in popularity.
“Many laundry packets are colorful, attractive to children, and can contain poisonous ingredients,” said CPSC Chairman Elliot Kaye. “We are working closely with our global partners, the industry, and consumer advocates to raise awareness, create a new safety standard, and protect children from the harm posed by these packets.”
Exposure to the water-soluble laundry packets can result in a loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, throat swelling, excessive vomiting, and loss of vision. Since these products first reached U.S. store shelves in late 2011, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reports that a substantial percentage of all child poisoning cases involved laundry packet exposure. In 2013, approximately 80,000 children received emergency treatment for exposure to the poisonous detergent packets, medicine, and other household chemicals.
Anyone who uses single-use laundry packets in a home where children live or visit should remember that the products dissolve quickly in wet hands, the mouth, or cups of water. The CPSC recommends parents or guardians follow these safety tips to eliminate the risk these products pose to children:
- Do not let children handle laundry packets.
- Do not puncture or take packets apart.
- Do not leave loose packets around the house; keep them stored securely in the container.
- Store laundry packets in their original containers, out of a child’s sight and reach.
- Keep containers closed and dry.
- Read and follow package warnings and instructions.
- Call Poison Help (800-222-1222) immediately if a child swallows or is exposed to the chemicals.