The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released a report which confirms what has been reported for some time: single-use detergent pods or pacs are according to the CDC an “emerging public health hazard in the United States,” with young children being the group most at-risk.
The CDC report is based on data from the American Association of Poison Control Centers which received reports of 1,008 laundry detergent exposures between May 17 and June 17 of this year. Of those 485 or 48% were from the single-use laundry detergent pods; the rest involved non-pod detergents, such as powders, liquids, etc. Coupled with the fact that single-use pods actually occupy a relatively small share of the detergent market nearly 50% is a staggering amount of potentially deadly exposures to children.
The largest group of incidents involved children aged five or younger. As the CDC summarized in it’s report, “a significantly greater proportion of those exposed to laundry detergent from pods had gastrointestinal and respiratory adverse health effects and mental status changes compared with those with non-pod laundry detergent exposures.”
The hazards of the detergent pods is not a new one and as of the posting of this article there are over 3000 complaints of children in the US alone that have been poisoned by single-use detergent pods.
In Europe, where the pod have been on the market longer, there has been a longer history of exposures. A recent study in the UK found that exposures to detergent pods now represent the highest percentage of all household cleaning product exposures.
The CDC‘s report observes that “children might be attracted to pods because their colorful appearance and size are similar to candy.” This point is clearly seen in the photo we have included which shows the Tide Pods which have blue and orange swirls not unlike what’s seen on many gummy candies in the grocery store checkout aisles.
Procter & Gamble, the largest U.S. manufacturer of laundry detergent pods has added a double-latch lid safety feature to its hard plastic Tide Pods container. Though the new containers started shipping in July, some of the original containers without the safety latch are still on store shelves. Procter & Gamble explains that as a “time lag that normally happens with distribution” and that “it will take a little while longer until all the product with the single latch is totally replaced with the double latch lid.” While it certainly would have been possible for Proctor and Gamble to pull the original containers off the store shelves and replace them with the safer containers with the double-latch lid safety feature they apparently choose to put profits before child safety.
The CDC report underscores the dangers of these detergent pods. While the pod may look like candy they are extremely toxic and directly related to the serious injuries some children have sustained that have resulted kids being placed on ventilators or having had surgery to treat swelling and ulceration injuries.
These types of child injuries will continue until the Consumer Product Safety Commission implements regulations to require adequate child-safe packaging, as well as prominent warning labels, for all detergent pods. In the meantime, if you choose to use laundry detergent pods for either laundry or those designed for dishwashers it is essential that you keep the pods out of the reach of children. If your child does ingest a pod, call the poison-control helpline immediately at 800-222-1222.
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