In May, ABC News reported breaking news that children are mistaking the new single-dose laundry detergent packets, such as Tide Pods, for candy. After an 18-month-old child swallowed a pod believing it to be candy, he was rushed to the emergency room with severe nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
ABC News reports that in the last five months, almost 1,200 children have sought treatment after swallowing laundry detergent, and that eleven of them were gravely ill.
On May 17, the AAPCC or American Association of Poison Control Centers issued a warning that urged the public, particularly parents, to keep laundry detergent in single dose packs—which are highly concentrated—out of reach from young children.
The press release states that the 57 poison control centers across the United States experienced an “uptick” in the number of calls regarding children’s exposure to laundry detergent. The individual packets were just introduced in February of this year, and by May, child emergencies were linked to the product. By then, the poison control centers were receiving nearly 10 calls a day. According to the latest reports, some of the centers have received nearly 30 calls a day.
The pods are small and bite-sized, and are filled with multi-colored liquid resembling a piece of hard candy. Reports from ABC state that Tide even packages the product in a container that resembles a candy jar. Unfortunately, as soon as a child bites into a pod and ingests the liquid, illness is practically immediate. Associated symptoms are diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, wheezing and respiratory distress.
Dr. Michael Beuhler, medical director of the Carolinas Poison Center, stated that the rapid onset of significant symptoms is frightening. Other brands of laundry detergents either result in no symptoms, or cause only minor stomach upsets.
According to ABC News, however, Dropps, a company that makes a laundry detergent pod, issued the following statement: “[Our] laundry detergent products are all enzyme-free and approved by the EPA for their Design for the Environment program which recognizes safer chemistry. We encourage consumers to keep the products out of the reach of children as with any household chemical.”
Tide told ABC News it plans to have new childproof containers out this summer. They said their packaging will have double latch lids and a larger warning. ABC reports the company has already started shipping the newly packaged product and it should be on store shelves soon.
On June 29, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a statement that it has already partnered with the Poison Prevention Week Council and poison control centers for a long time. Its staff is aggressively investigating the various brands of laundry packs, and is currently working with their manufacturers. CPSC staff has not yet made any conclusions with regard to the investigation, but both parents and caregivers are reminded to keep hazardous products such as laundry packs locked up and away from their children, regardless of their packaging.
Tampa’s Poison Control Center reports household cleaners are the number one poison commonly ingested by children. The AAPCC recommends the following steps to keep children safe from laundry detergent poisoning:
- Always keep detergents locked up and out of the reach of children.
- Follow the specific disposal instructions on the label.
- If you think a child has been exposed to a laundry detergent packet, call your local poison center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports every day, nearly 87 people die as a result of unintentional poisoning and another 2,277 are treated in emergency departments.
Our South Florida defective products attorneys urge parents and adults to heed the advice of the poison centers if you have laundry detergent packets in your home: “Always keep them locked up high and out of the reach of kids!” Ingesting the detergent is extremely dangerous and can leave your child with permanent, serious injuries. If you or a family member has been the victim of a defective product, seek legal help to understand your rights.
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