For months, Atlanta-based CDC has been warning parents about the dangers of single-use laundry detergent pods and packets. The recent death of a Florida infant further highlights the dangers of the pods. According to ABC News, the child got hold of one and ingested its contents. Stacie Miller, a spokesperson for the Kissimmee Police Department, said, “The mom left the room for a brief moment and when she came back, the child was eating the laundry packet.”
In Aug. 9, the mother called 911 and the child was rushed to the hospital where he died. No charges have been brought against the mother at this time, and any possible charges would be up to the state attorney's office. "At this point, we don't see any malice or child neglect," Miller said.
Almost one year ago, the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta raised the red flag about the dangers of laundry pods or packets. In its weekly report dated Oct. 19, 2012, the center stated, “Parents and caregivers should keep laundry detergent pods, as well as other household cleaning products, out of reach and out of sight of children. Health-care providers should be aware that exposure to laundry detergent from pods might be associated with adverse health effects more often than exposure to non-pod laundry detergents.”
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there have been more than 6,000 cases of kids being sickened by laundry detergent pods in 2013 alone. Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of “Consumer Reports," said that this month’s tragic incident reminds the public of the dangers of these highly-concentrated detergent pods. Ami Gadhia, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, told Consumerist.com, “Children may mistake these laundry pods for candy because of their colorful appearance and soft, squishy texture. The ingestion of these highly-concentrated packets can cause excessive vomiting, lethargy, gasping, or loss of breath.”
In addition, Gadhia says companies “should consider changing the color of the pods to make them less appealing or coating them with a foul-tasting material.” Procter & Gamble recently announced a change from its previous use of clear, fishbowl-like containers for the pods, to an opaque orange bin that would serve to discourage children from opening them and potentially ingesting the pods. The company is also adding a child-resistant double-latch lid.
If you’re a parent and use the single-use pods in your laundry, it’s imperative to stash your supply out of reach of small, wandering hands. Because the packets look like candy, it’s simply too tempting to taste them. The results could be disastrous. “I’m surprised they’re so colorful, parent Becca Shea told KSN. “I mean it really does look like candy or some kind of toy.”
Last March, a boy from Commerce, Ga. became violently ill after swallowing the contents of a laundry detergent packet. The child ended up in the hospital with a breathing tube. He’s OK now, but his mother issued a warning for other parents. Stephanie Lankford told WXIA in Atlanta, “Looking at it, I just thought it was a great product, it worked great.” She added, “If you're a parent of a toddler, you really need to think twice about bringing this product into your home. It looks like candy. A two year old sees it and they don't see that it's laundry detergent."
In 2012 in the U.S., more than 6,000 children age five and younger got sick trying to eat laundry detergent pods, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. 151 of them were in Georgia.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers recommends the following steps for parents to protect their youngsters:
- 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 800-222-1222 immediately.
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