November 15, 2014 – Everyday, one child in the United States is admitted to hospital for injuries sustained from detergent pods.
Despite warnings on the detergent pod packaging, thousands upon thousands of children in North America have suffered from a rapid onset of significant symptoms from profuse vomiting and severe abdominal pain to loss of consciousness and placed on ventilators in intensive care units.
In 2013, a 16-month-old boy from New Jersey bit into a laundry detergent pod and went into cardiac arrest. He was resuscitated but died a few days later.
Laundry detergent pods were introduced to consumers in 2010 and by May 2012, about 700 reports were made to poison control centres across the United States. According to the U.S. Pediatric Journal, in 2012 and 2013 there were 17,230 cases of children aged 6 and younger who had swallowed or inhaled the pods. Of this number, 769 were hospitalized and 67% involved one and two-year-old children.
Health Canada reported 13 detergent pod poisonings that did not result in death. The Manitoba Poison Centre receives more than 5,000 calls each year and the Poison Control Centre in Ontario receives around 45 calls per month.
The pods are made with a saran wrap-like plastic casing, which not only dissolves when it gets wet but also bursts open when a child bites into it or squeezes it. If a child eats a detergent pod, he/she can go into respiratory distress and vomit violently. The concentrated detergent can cause severe burns to the aesophagus and stomach. If a child squirts the pod detergent into his/her eye, exposure can cause corneal injury and a temporary loss of vision.
Health Canada is working with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and industry officials to develop safety standards as well as collaborating with the Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres to track reports of accidental ingestions.
Children are attracted to the candy-coloured, squeezable pods. They can hold them quite easily in their tiny hands. And what do children do with anything they hold in their hands? You guessed it. They put it in their mouths. It's their natural disposition.
Detergent pods look no different from a toy, a piece of candy or a teething ring.
Until preventative measures are applied to the design and concentration of detergent pod products so that children do not suffer the consequences of unnecessary accidents and suffering, we recommend that all parents with pre-schoolers:
- switch back to using traditional, dry detergent or liquid detergent because it is much less concentrated and therefore less toxic
- keep laundry and dishwashing pods from your child’s reach and clearly out of sight
- Install safety locks on cabinets with cleaning detergents
- Inform your babysitter, caregiver, grandparents and other family members about the dangers of detergent pods
Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) – Liquid Laundry Packets – U.S.
Poisoning and Poison Control Centres across Canada – valuable information