Study: Over 17,000 Kids Have Been Hurt By Laundry Detergent Pods

Dissolving detergent pods, introduced in 2012, are convenient and popular. They’re also extremely dangerous to the young children to whom they look like delicious squishy treats. And a new study finds it’s even more children than previously thought, with an average of one child being hurt by a laundry pod every hour.

The New York Times reports that in 2012 and 2013, over 17,000 children were in some way poisoned by the colorful cleaners, either by swallowing or breathing the contents or by getting the liquid in their eyes. Some detergent poisonings have tragically been fatal.

The CDC has been reporting for years that the detergent pods are particularly attractive to small children, and the CPSC issued a consumer safety alert on them back in 2012.

The pods were originally sold in clear plastic containers that made their shiny, colorful contents especially attractive to curious toddlers and pre-schoolers. Most manufacturers have since switched to opaque containers, but concern about the pods remains.

The researchers gathered their information from the National Poison Data System. Reporting incidents to the database is voluntary, and so it’s likely that the study is, if anything, underreporting the number of incidents.

“These 17,000 children we found amounts to one child every hour being exposed to one of these laundry pod products,” one of the study authors told the New York Times. “That’s a very different order of magnitude than other hazards.”

At least ten brands of laundry detergent pods are now available, and consumers sure do like to snap them up. Consumers spent about $525 million on the two brands in 2013, the New York Times says, which is an increase of over 55% as compared to 2012.

Two children have died as a result of poisoning from laundry detergent pods. During the period the study covered, 6000 children were seen in emergency rooms, 750 were hospitalized, and over 300 required intensive care.

Detergent Pods Pose Risk to Children, Study Finds [New York Times]