Today Consumers Union, the advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, asked the Consumer Product Safety Commission to take steps regarding the dangers posed to children from single-use detergent packets. Since the beginning of the year, poison-control centers have received almost 3,000 calls regarding exposure to single-use laundry and dishwasher detergent packs involving children five and younger.
Single-use laundry detergent packets, similar to what we've seen in dishwashers for years, are the latest thing in detergent and the fastest growing segment of the industry. The small size of the packets makes them attractive to children, and the bright colors and squishy textures of some packaging could be enticing children. In some cases, children who ingested a pod have been put on ventilators or undergone surgery to treat swelling and ulceration injuries from exposure to the detergents.
In a letter addressed to Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, Consumers Union asks the agency to consider regulations to require adequate child-safe packaging, as well as prominent warning labels:
"We are concerned that the old packaging is still being sold in stores. All manufacturers should step up their efforts to make these products safer and to prevent easy access by children. In addition to improving the packaging (through effective child-resistant packaging and prominent warning labels, for example), manufacturers should consider changing the color of these products or package them in opaque wrapping or plastic to make them less appealing to children."
Earlier this year, Tide added a double-latched lid to the plastic tubs that hold individual Tide Pods to make the containers harder to open.
All detergents (and household cleaners) should be kept out of the reach of children. If your child does swallow one of these single-use detergent packs, call the poison-control helpline immediately at 800-222-1222, since serious effects can happen very quickly.
Also take note that our latest laundry detergent tests have found that the cleaning performance of many of these single-dose packets appears to be an issue. Our laundry detergent Ratings have plenty of better choices in both liquid and powdered detergents.
Consumers Union calls for investigation into safety hazards of detergent packets [Consumers Union]