Most of the injuries occurred to children under the age of two.
“This is not a rare event. We’ve likely identified just the tip of the iceberg in Canada,” said Dr. Jonathan Maguire, Medical Director of the CPSP and paediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.
“To require intensive care management for something that is entirely preventable is a very big deal,” added Maguire.
The detergent pods have been available to the consumer since 2012, and since that time there has been a steady increase of accidental injuries and poisonings.
The pods have 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.
One detergent pod is equivalent to one cup of laundry detergent. Children who have ingested detergent pods have suffered from excessive vomiting, respiratory arrest, pulmonary edema, cardiac arrest and coma.
The concentrated detergent can also cause chemical burns to the skin, mouth, aesophagus and stomach.
If a pod accidentally squirts into a child’s eye, it can cause corneal injury and a temporary loss of vision.
“To require intensive care management for something that is entirely preventable is a very big deal.”
Dr. Jonathan Maguire, Medical Director of the CPSP & paediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, Canada
The U.S. Facts
Every 45 minutes a child is reported to a poison control centre in the United States.
62,254 calls involving exposure to laundry or dishwasher detergent were reported among children aged six and younger in 2013 and 2014.
Just when lawmakers introduced the ‘Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act’ decreeing safety standards be applied to the detergent pods, manufacturers agreed to add a bitter taste to the saran coating and design containers that are harder to open.
The Canadian Facts
In the fall of 2012, detergent pod products were the subject of an on-going review by Health Canada to determine compliance with applicable regulations.
Almost 5 years later, I still don’t know what, if anything has been accomplished by Health Canada or indeed, the outcome of the review in regards to compliance regulations. However, I do know that children continue to suffer the demise of these badly designed detergent pods.
Be Wise: Use These Safety Tips
Until preventative measures are applied to the design, concentration and packaging of detergent pod products, we recommend that all parents:
- 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
- Keep the number of your local Poison Control Centre near your telephone.
- In the event of an emergency, dial 911 immediately.
Laundry Detergent Pods - CHASA
Poisoning and Poison Control Centres across Canada – valuable information from CHASA
Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) – Liquid Laundry Packets – U.S.
Pediatrics Journal – U.S. – data and statistics for detergent pods