(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – The number of children exposed to the dangers of laundry detergent packets continued to increase, despite safety warnings and efforts by manufacturers to make packages more child resistant. A new study shows that between 2013-2014, more than 62,254 calls were made to poison control centers after children were exposed to laundry detergent packets, a 17 percent increase in that 2 year span.
“Children who swallow the contents of laundry detergent packets can experience life-threatening effects, including coma, fluid in the lungs, and breathing failure; there were 2 deaths during the 2-year study period,” said Gary Smith, MD, DrPH, senior author of the study and director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Smith partnered with colleagues from the Central Ohio Poison Center to compare dishwasher and laundry detergents, sold in packets and in traditional liquid and powder forms. “Laundry detergent packets by far represented the biggest poisoning threat to children,” he said.
Researchers found that laundry detergent packets were associated with more serious medical outcomes, more hospitalizations, and more breathing failure than traditional laundry detergent. When children bite down on a packet, they can burst, sending toxic chemicals quickly down the throat. A serious poisoning can occur in the time it takes to turn to reach for a pair of socks.