Since 1961, the third week in March has been designated National Poison Prevention Week. The event was established by Congress as a way to highlight the dangers of poisonings and show how to prevent them. More than 2 million poisonings are reported each year, nine out of 10 of which occur at home. While children are most vulnerable, poisonings are also one of the leading causes of death among adults.
There are far more poison threats today compared with when National Poison Prevention Week started. In "Laundry detergent pods remain a health hazard," we detail one that's arisen in the last year, laundry pods. Since early 2012, poison-control centers nationwide have received reports of nearly 7,700 pod-related exposures to children age 5 years and younger.
Exposure to a single-use laundry pod can cause more severe symptoms than conventional detergent. Swallowing conventional detergent might result in mild stomach upset, but with highly concentrated detergent pods the ingestion can cause excessive vomiting, lethargy, and gasping. In some reported cases, victims stopped breathing and required ventilation support.
As part of National Poison Prevention Week, Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, is warning the public of this growing health hazard and pressing the industry to do more to protect children. If you have or care for young kids, keep detergent pods out of their reach. And if a child does ingest a pod, call the poison-control helpline immediately (800-222-1222).