A new report from the Centers for Disease Control found that in the one month period from May 17–June 17, 2012, poison centers reported 485 exposures involving laundry detergent pods, almost all of which involved children ages 5 and under.
And while there were about an equal amount of children who took sips or scoops of non-pod detergent, the CDC found that a “significantly greater proportion” of the pod-chewing children had “gastrointestinal and respiratory adverse health effects and mental status changes compared with those with non-pod laundry detergent exposures.”
And given that pods have only been on the market for about two years and still make up a smaller portion of the detergent market than powders and liquids, the fact that about half of all reported detergent exposures comes from this smaller number of households could be a sign of bad things to come as pods become more popular.
“These pods may look like candy, but they’re toxic, and we’re seeing more reports of young children being harmed,” explains Urvashi Rangan, Ph.D., Director of Safety and Sustainability at Consumer Reports. “In some cases, kids have been placed on ventilators or had surgery to treat swelling and ulceration injuries. We need manufacturers to make their products safer, and we need to take measures to educate people about the dangers and require better packaging and labeling.”
The CDC is advising parents and caregivers to “keep laundry detergent pods, as well as other household cleaning products, out of reach and out of sight of children.”
After initial reports of children chowing down on these pods, Procter & Gamble introduced a more secure lid. However, there are concerns of older containers still being on the market — and we all know that children will eventually figure out a way to open something if they want what’s inside.
Consumer Reports is asking manufacturers of these products to go further and not just make the containers more difficult to open, but to make the pods themselves less attractive by changing the colors or putting them into opaque containers where youngsters won’t see them and hear the siren song of “Taste me… I look like a huuuuuge yummmy candy…”