(NaturalNews) The convenient single-use laundry packets that people toss in their clothes washer are posing serious health risks to young children who tend to mistake the colorful, clear pouches–commonly referred to as “pods” as popularized by the Tides Pods brand–as candy or toys.
“Laundry detergent pods are small, colorful, and may look like candy or juice to a young child,” said Marcel J. Casavant, MD, chief of toxicology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and medical director of the Central Ohio Poison Center. “It can take just a few seconds for children to grab them, break them open, and swallow the toxic chemicals they contain, or get the chemicals in their eyes.”
U.S. poison control centers kept busy as children mistake pods for candy
The matter is made worse because young children typically use their mouth as a way to explore the world around them. For these reasons, the colorful packets have unfortunately been keeping U.S. poison control centers busy; the Nationwide Children’s Hospital says that from 2012 through 2013, some 17,230 reports of children under the age of six who swallowed, inhaled or were otherwise exposed to the chemicals in the pouches were reported.
Here’s a more startling breakdown.
Those numbers translate to about one young child every hour being impacted by the single-use packets. It means that about 769 young children were hospitalized during that period, which is about one child being admitted every single day. It even led to the death of a 7 month-old Florida boy after he swallowed a candy-colored packet in 2013. Of that incident, Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, medical director at the Florida Poison Information Center warns of the ways in which children explore saying, “With young children, any household product is likely to end up in their mouth.”
It’s also been reported that a New Jersey child died from interaction with such detergents.
Frightening health consequences posed by laundry detergents
One woman, Angela Farrell of Levittown, Pa. knows all too well of the dangers of such laundry packets. She used to keep them away from her 18-month-old son on a high shelf, however, one day a packet fell on the ground. Her son put the packet in his mouth but Farrell explains that, “By the time I had pulled it out, he had swallowed its contents.”
His health problems set in quickly; by the time the ambulance arrived he was vomiting frequently and having breathing difficulties. Once in the ER, the little boy was using a breathing tube. Fortunately, he survived, but not without the panic that all parents experience in such situations. Farrell says she now only uses traditional liquid detergent. “I don’t have to worry about him getting into that big bottle as easily as he bit into a packet,” she said.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), which lists “laundry detergent packets” in its alerts section along with e-cigarette devices and energy drinks, children who come in contact with them may experience a range of symptoms and health consequences. Vomiting, gasping, wheezing, sleepiness, breathing complications and corneal abrasions may occur if they are ingested, inhaled or touched then rubbed on parts of the body such as the eyes.
Tips on how to avoid toxic laundry detergent
To ensure safety, the AAPCC suggests keeping detergent containers shut, stored in areas where they can not be reached by children and to always follow label instructions.
Of course, there’s always going the route of Farrell, who stopped using such packets altogether in favor of the liquid variety. Still, traditional liquid detergents, while not as inviting in appearance to children or as portable, still pose health risks to all people–not just youngsters. They’re toxic and loaded with synthetic surfactants, fragrance and phenols which can wreak havoc on overall health including damage to liver, heart, kidneys and lungs.
Instead, consider ditching toxic detergents altogether and instead, use non-toxic options such as ones that are natural and labeled as being eco-friendly.
In an effort to address the problems associated with accidental contact with the laundry packets, manufacturers have made changes such as making more visible warning labels, packaging that is more difficult to open and even designing laundry pouches that are opaque and therefore, not as intriguing to children.
Sources for this article include:
Written by Jennifer Lea Reynolds
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