Poison Prevention

Poison Centers Issue New Warning about Single-Use Laundry Detergent Packets

If you use highly concentrated liquid laundry detergent that comes in small packets, you’ll want to heed this warning from the experts at America’s 57 poison centers: Always keep them locked up high and out of the reach of kids!

Image – Iowa Statewide Poison Control Center

The new individual packets of highly concentrated, one-time-use laundry detergents are causing serious health problems in some children who have been exposed to them.  For example, some children who have bitten into the packets and swallowed some of the liquid have experienced profuse vomiting, diarrhea, sleepiness, wheezing and coughing.  Some have had trouble breathing and have had to be hospitalized and placed on ventilators.  Some children who got the product into their eyes have experienced severe eye irritation and corneal abrasions. 

No one knows yet what is causing the serious health effects.  Exposure to traditional laundry detergent usually does not cause anything more than a mild upset stomach.  The look and feel of the new packets may be particularly interesting to young children, who explore their world through normal hand-to-mouth activity.  The products have a texture that resembles teething toys or gummy candy, and the colors are bright and attractive.

Please remember to lock these and all cleaning products up high and out of reach of children as soon as you are finished using them.  Carefully follow instructions for safe handling and storage.  This factsheet posted by the American Cleaning Institute has important laundry safety information.

As of May 25, 2012, the 57 poison centers around the country had reported 317 cases of exposure to the packets.  If you think a child may have been exposed to one of these packets, call your local poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

Help spread the word about the importance of keeping these products locked up and away from children. Click here for a factsheet that you can share with friends and family members.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) supports the nation’s 57 poison centers in their efforts to prevent and treat poison exposures. Poison centers offer free, confidential, expert medical advice 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The hotline is staffed by specially trained medical experts – including doctors, nurses and pharmacists – who take calls in more than 150 languages and from the hearing impaired.

For questions about poison or if you think someone has been exposed to a poison, call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 to reach your local poison center.

– Contributed by Courtney Wilson, public education and national outreach manager, American Association of Poison Control Centers, www.aapcc.org

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