Laundry Detergent Pods are Poisoning Our Children

Most parents take the proper precautions to secure medicines and detergents so that little hands don’t get into dangerous substances.  While there is often a lock on the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and medicines are put up in a high cabinet in child-proof bottles, the laundry area can be a safety afterthought.  Thousands of children each year land in the hospital from poisoning due to ingesting the toxic chemicals found in many common laundry detergent brands.  At least one child has died from consuming the detergent inside a laundry pod.

The introduction of the laundry detergent pod has only increased the danger to children looking to find out what treat must lie inside those colorful, good-smelling, and squishy packets.  The pods are roughly the size of most children’s food snack packs.  Teething toddlers, who put just about everything they can get their hands on into their mouths anyway, are especially at risk for ingesting the toxic laundry liquids inside.

As reported in The Washington Post:

Those little laundry detergent pods that have gotten so popular pose “a serious poisoning risk to young children,” says a study in the journal Pediatrics.

The pods are small packets of concentrated detergent in a water-soluble sack. Many are packaged colorfully and look like candy. Children are swallowing them or bursting them open, “exposing their skin or eyes to the detergent chemicals,” the study said.

From 2012 through 2013, it said, more than 17,000 children younger than 6 were exposed to the pre-measured pods, with many kids ingesting them.

A small number of those exposed — 4.4 percent — required hospitalization, some requiring mechanical ventilation. There was a single confirmed death, the study said.

Children younger than 3 accounted for 73.5 percent of the cases.

“Serious medical consequences have been documented, including respiratory distress, marked lethargy and depression of consciousness,” the study reported. For reasons the authors said they did not yet understand, the chemical formulation of the pods appears to be more dangerous than regular detergent that comes out of a box or bottle.

In a statement, the American Cleaning Institute, which represents manufacturers of detergents, said companies “have directly engaged parents and caregivers, as well as poison control centers, pediatricians and other medical professionals, educators and social service providers in alerting them to the potential for childhood accidents if these products are not properly stored.”

While proper storage of harmful laundry chemicals should be the responsibility of any parent, do there really have to be harmful chemicals in our laundry detergents in the first place?  Laundry pods may make laundry time a few seconds shorter for parents, but the chemicals within drastically increase the health risks for our children.  Choosing healthier laundry alternatives can mean the difference between the life and death of your child in a “worst-case” accidental ingestion scenario.

SOURCE:  Barbash, Fred.  (2014, November 10).  “Study: Kids are eating those laundry detergent pods and some are winding up hospitalized.”  Retrieved from