Got Kids Under 5? Lock Up Your Laundry Pods or Risk a Visit to the ER

Young children are four times as likely to end up in the hospital after contact with laundry pod detergent as those exposed to other types of detergent.

laundry detergent pods
Photo: Photo: Ellen Sturm Niz

The news about laundry pods just keeps getting worse.

While they may look like candy, laundry detergent pods are also poisonous. And according to a new study, children under 6 are four times as likely to end up in the hospital after contact with laundry pods as they are when exposed to other types of detergent. The study was published in the journal Injury Prevention.

Researchers examined national U.S. data from ER visits for kids 5 and younger between 2012 (when the pods were first introduced in the U.S.) and 2014, and they found that nearly 10,000 children landed in emergency departments after coming into contact with the packets. Children under 5 accounted for 94 percent of the cases—and the most common result was poisoning, which occurred in 71 percent of the kids. (To compare, the most common result of exposure to non-pod detergent was contact dermatitis).

The kids exposed to pods were also four times as likely to be admitted to the hospital than those exposed to other types of detergent.

Um, should these things still be on the market?!

While the researchers say more effort needs to be made by the manufacturers to protect young children—including using childproof containers, more muted colors, opaque packaging, and better public awareness of the dangers posed by the pods to young children—they believe parents and caregivers should heed the advice of consumer safety groups and refrain from using laundry pods in homes with children under 6.

"While the innovation of pod laundry detergent makes mundane home tasks easier, their use does require caution and vigilance to safety, especially in homes with young children," explained lead author Thomas Swain, a research assistant at the Center for Injury Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "While regulation of the product appearance is occurring and could make pod products less enticing to adolescents, ultimately it is the responsibility of caregivers to ensure a child-safe environment."

Do you agree?

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and a mom. Check out her website for more, and then follow her on Twitter at @holleewoodworld.

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