Laundry Pods Pose Ingestion Risk to Children

July 27, 2016

February of 2012 saw the introduction of laundry detergent "pods" to the market. These pods are small, highly-concentrated single-dose packets, which are brightly colored, often mimicking candy. Since their introduction the pods have been causing an uptick in exposures, as young children mistakenly ingest them.

New research, appearing in the July 2016 journal Injury Preventionexamined the severity of laundry pods as compared to traditional liquid and powder detergents. The study found that nearly 3 in 4 children exposed to laundry pods were diagnosed with poisoning. In contrast, 3 in 4 children exposed to traditional detergent were diagnosed with itchy or irritated skin. Also, hospital admission for children exposed to laundry pods was four times higher, highlighting the danger and severity of laundry pods.

The study, which examined 36,000 cases of children treated for laundry detergent exposure, also found that children younger than 6 accounted for 94 percent of laundry pod ingestion/exposure cases.

The July 2016 research builds on other research efforts and serves as a stark reminder of the severity of laundry pod exposures. Research conducted in 2012 and 2013 found 17,230 reported exposures to pods in children under the age of six. Alarmingly, nearly 2/3rd of these exposures occurred in children between 1 to 2 years of age.

Fast forward a few years and the problem has only gotten worse. A new study, appearing in Pediatrics, found an increase of 17 percent in laundry detergent pod exposures.

These bite-sized packets are small enough to easily fit into a child’s palm and mouth. The size, coupled with their bright colors often lead children to mistake these for candy. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) there have been 2,840 exposure reports from highly concentrated packets of laundry detergent by children 5 and younger (through March 31, 2016).

Laundry packet exposures to children 5 and younger:

  • 2012: 6,343
  • 2013: 10,395
  • 2014: 11,714
  • 2015: 12,594

Source: AAPCC

Unlike traditional laundry detergents, medical professionals have reported a rapid onset of symptoms, which can include vomiting, wheezing, and/or difficulty breathing. In addition, other children have gotten the product in their eyes, resulting in significant eye irritation.

Preventing accidental exposure to laundry detergent pods is easy:

  • Keep pods locked up and out of reach of children
  • When using pods, be sure to keep children under supervision
  • For older children, discuss the dangers of ingesting household cleaners
  • If you think a child has been exposed to a laundry detergent packet, call the 24-hour free Poison Help line at (800) 222-1222 immediately.

Original Post: April 27, 2016, updated content July 27, 2016


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Topics: Health & Safety

Adina Young

Written by Adina Young

Adina Young is the Sr. Communications Manager at Child Care Aware® of America.