Child Injury Risks and Laundry Pods

Single-load laundry detergent pods became available to consumers in 2012, but a news release from Consumer Reports emphasizes that this product can pose serious child injury risks. It’s true that the laundry pods are convenient, but they’re “a serious health hazard for young children,” the magazine explained. Manufacturers have a duty to provide products that aren’t unreasonably safe for use.2075433092_a2dbf94911

While companies who make detergent pods have attempted to make these hazardous products safer for households with young kids, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) continues to receive reports about severe child injuries. As such, Consumer Reports recently decided not to include laundry detergent pods on its list of recommended products, and the magazine even went so far as to “strongly urge households where children younger than 6 are ever present to skip them altogether.”

Dangers of Laundry Detergent Pods

Between January and June of 2015, poison control centers across the country have received thousands of reports about laundry detergent pods. Indeed, more than 6,000 reports in six months alone have described “kids 5 and younger ingesting or inhaling pods, or getting pod contents on their skin or in their eyes.” In 2014, the AAPCC reported a total of 11,714 poisonings connected to laundry detergent pods. If the current rates for 2015 stay on pace, the number of incidents this year will surpass those in 2014. And this wouldn’t be an anomaly—the total number of injuries linked to laundry detergent pods has been on the rise since the product was introduced nearly four years ago.

Popular laundry detergent companies such as Tide and Gain produce these pods, and amidst reports of child injuries a number of manufacturers have taken steps to help make them safer in homes with kids. For instance, companies have switched “from clear to opaque plastic for outer containers and, on some, adding child-resistant latches to make it more difficult to get to the pods.” However, children continue to come into contact with these hazardous products.

Why are laundry detergent pods attractive to young children? A fact sheet presented by the AAPCC explains of these packets that, “because they are colorful and squishy . . . they can look like candy or something fun to play with.” But when children swallow the highly concentrated detergent or get it in their eyes, they can sustain serious injuries. To be sure, many kids “have become very ill and have been hospitalized.”

Unknown Variables Affect Kids’ Treatment After Exposure

A recent report from The Wall Street Journal attempted to explore the reasons why these laundry detergent pods are so dangerous. The question is a significant one, as “children have been sampling regular detergent for years without such harm.” But with the pods, emergency department physicians have seen a wide range of outcomes among kids who ingested or were otherwise exposed to the concentrated detergent in these packets. According to Brandon Wills, a toxicologist, “we don’t know why some children get so sick from laundry pods.” As the article explains, “while the contents of the packets are highly concentrated, and the detergent can shoot out with force when the packets are burst, it isn’t clear what substances in them can cause life-threatening injuries.”

Currently, emergency room doctors simply don’t have enough information to best treat these injuries. Knowing precisely why some kids are gravely affected would help tremendously in healing injuries, but “consumer-product manufacturers have closely guarded the details of how they formulated and what kind of testing they did with laundry packets.” Makers of these pods aren’t required to give a full listing of ingredients, but the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is urging companies to adopt voluntary safety standards that would make the pods safer.

Researchers continue to explore some of the variables that they believe can result in laundry detergent pods affecting different children in dissimilar ways. If your child suffered an injury from a laundry detergent pod, you should discuss your case with an experienced San Diego product liability lawyer. You may be eligible to file a claim for compensation.

Photo Credit: Jeremy Brooks via Compfight cc

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