If you use laundry detergent pods, you've probably noticed how the brightly colored and shiny packages resemble a fun candy or juice rather than a potentially dangerous cleaning product.
This similarity has presented a "serious poisoning risk" to thousands of children around the country, according to a recent study published in Pediatrics.
Using information from the National Poison Data System, researchers found that more than 17,000 children under the age of 6 were exposed to the pods, mostly through ingestion, between 2012 and 2013. (That adds up to about one child every hour, Dr. Marcel J. Casavant, a study author and the medical director of the poison center at Nationwide Children's Hospital, told The New York Times!) Kids younger 3 years old made up more than 70 percent of that total, and more than 750 children had to be hospitalized due to their exposure.
The pods have been on the market since 2012 and their sales numbers have skyrocketed due to their toss-and-go convenience, The Wall Street Journal reports. But some experts are concerned that the pods are more toxic than regular detergent due to their highly concentrated formula, the WSJ reports:
Doctors told the Journal last year that the concentrated nature of the product heightened the risks to children who come into contact with them. Plus, they are encased in a water-soluble film and tend to burst when bitten into, shooting their contents down children's throats. The doctors were also concerned that the formulation of the products could make them more dangerous. Some have pointed to a higher amount of surfactants in the laundry capsules relative to regular detergent as a possible cause. Surfactants are compounds like soap that help oil and dirt dissolve in water.
Children have sampled regular laundry detergent over the years without much incident, since they usually were turned off by the taste before they could ingest enough to cause problems, poison-control experts have said.
While some detergent manufacturers have made efforts to make their packaging more child-resistant, Dr. Michael Gray of the Abrahamson Pediatric Eye Institute at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center told Reuters that the best thing for parents of young children to do is use traditional laundry detergent.
Laundry detergent pods are just one of many surprising safety hazards that can be found in your home. Take the time to review our list of 10 other hidden home dangers here.
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Photo of laundry detergent pods courtesy of Shutterstock.