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Liquid Laundry Packets Can Cause Child Injuries, Poisoning, Warns CPSC

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued an alert cautioning that single-load liquid laundry packets may be harmful to kids. The reason for this, said the CPSC, is that some of the chemicals contained in them are toxic. The federal agency wants caregivers and parents to keep these packets out of children’s reach. Adults are not immune from this safety risk either.
Just this year alone, CPSC reports that there have been at least 500 incidents involving adults and kids that fell ill because of liquid laundry packets. Ingestion of these single packet pods has led to unconsciousness, drowsiness, vomiting, breathing problems to the point that intubation was necessary, throat swelling, diarrhea, and eye irritation, ocular burns, or temporary vision loss from the detergent making physical contact with the eye after a packet has been ruptured. Touted as the new and improved, less messy versions of liquid and powder detergents, these laundry pods are proving to be more trouble than convenient.

The packets tend to draw the attention of young children because this product tends to be colorful, squishy to play with, and small enough that it easy to put in the mouth. Its texture has been described by some as “gummy bear-like,” and it is not surprising that a toddler might easily mistake one for a toy, a piece of candy, or a teething product.

Also, the CPSC is urging that these laundry packets are handled with dry hands because when exposed to saliva or water they tend to dissolve quickly and that is when they release toxic chemicals. If this were to happen to you or your child you should immediately call 1-800-222-1222 for the National Capital Poison Center. The American Center of Poison Control Centers is already reporting that there has been surge in calls about injuries involving single packet laundry pods. (Over the course of just 20 days, help lines reportedly received almost 180 calls–that’s nearly 10 calls a day.)

In May, Proctor and Gamble the manufacturer of Tide announced that it was going to make its packaging that holds the small laundry packets childproof (the older packaging was shaped like a plastic candy jar) and include with it a bigger warning label. Henkel, which makes Purex Ultra Packs, has also said it will include better warning labels with its products, as well as more detailed instructions about what to do in case of ingestion. There are other manufacturers that are also selling their own lines of these tiny packets.

In a report released last month, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,008 incidents of detergent poisoning involving kids over just 30 days this summer. 486 of these involved the single packet pods. Also, kids under age 6 made up 94% of laundry detergent poisonings with those that ingested the pods generally falling more ill than the children that swallowed other kinds of laundry detergent. The CDC is calling exposure to these pods a “public health hazard.”

At The Gilbert Law Group, our products liability lawyers are always on the look out for products that are causing serious injury to consumers. Our child injury law firm represents families with product defect claims against manufacturers, sellers, and distributors. You may have grounds for a laundry detergent packet lawsuit.

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  • Single-Load Laundry Packets
  • , CPSC Alert (PDF)
  • Laundry Detergent Pods an ‘Emerging Public Health Hazard’ Among Kids, Says CDC, ABC News, October 19, 2012
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