Laundry Pod Poison Danger
If you are like me, you are probably using those cute laundry pods to do your laundry. They are attractive and so easy to use! Plus they feel good to squeeze, like a water balloon! Since my child is grown up now, I don’t think much about kid-proofing my house, so I was very concerned when I read that these pods have become a poison danger to young children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been tracking calls to poison control centers since the pods came on the market in 2010, and have been warning U.S. consumers about the dangers of these pods.
In August last year, a baby less than 1 year old found one the pods when his mom was momentarily distracted. He put it in his mouth and the soft gel surface of the pod dissolved, so the baby got the full amount in his mouth. He died as a result of the exposure.
Poison control centers have received over 3,000 complaints of children being exposed to the contents of these pods. In just one year:
- There were a reported 769 children hospitalized, many needing breathing tubes.
- 30 children were in comas for some time.
- 12 children had seizures.
- At least two deaths have been reported.
All household products have a potential to poison and sicken children. When I was little, one of my preschool-age friends used to like to lick Comet household cleaner because she thought it was powdered sugar. It’s not a new problem, and many parents use childproof latches on cupboards containing household cleaning supplies. So are these pods any different? Yes, it turns out they are a bigger danger than most detergent products, because they cause more damage.
The Danger of Pods
Why exactly are pods more dangerous?
- The pods are highly-concentrated, so they contain more toxic substances.
- The pods are attractively colored, looking almost like candy.
- They are soft and jelly-like to the touch, which makes them very fun for children to handle.
- They are child-sized, fitting into the palm of a toddler’s hand.
- The surface coating dissolves with moisture, so if a child touches it with the tongue, it dissolves. If a little hand is squeezing the pod, the liquid squirts into the mouth. This can also cause the child to cough and breathe the liquid detergent into the lungs.
Symptoms of Pod Exposure
The CDC says many symptoms have been reported, and they have found that these symptoms are significantly greater than those of exposure to non-pod detergent.
- Many report vomiting.
- Some children have changes in mental status, becoming drowsy and hard to awaken.
- Some have trouble breathing, since the chemicals make the throat swell. As a result, many children need breathing tubes or surgical procedures such as scopes to keep the throat open, or medications such as steroids to help the swelling go down.
- Some children get ulcers or other damage to the gastrointestinal tract.
- There has been some eye damage reported.
I asked an expert from CHLA’s Emergency Department to weigh in as well.
“Even if there are no signs of burns or damage in the mouth but you think your child may have swallowed the liquid detergent, you should call 911 or take your child immediately to the emergency department,” says Calvin Lowe, MD, FAAP, medical director for the hospital’s Emergency Transport Program. “There might be damage in the esophagus even if there aren’t any oral signs.”
What Should Parents Do?
- Keep all household cleaning products out of reach of children less than 5 years of age.
- Only buy the pods if the container has a double-latch lid, and store it out of reach of children.
- Consider not using the pods if your home has children less than 5 years of age.
There was a spike in calls to the poison control centers when the pods first came onto the market. The number has leveled off as the public has become aware of the danger, but they are still a threat; the death I mentioned earlier happened in 2013, and the pods have been on the market since 2010. So, please tell your friends, families and neighbors with little children about this danger.
Manufacturers are being encouraged to use double-latch containers for the pods and also to consider different ingredients to make them less toxic if a child does get a hold of one. In the meantime, be sure to keep your children safe and keep these products out of reach or out of your home.