After months of heightened public concern over the poisoning dangers of single-load laundry detergent packets, a 7-month-old boy in Florida tragically died last month after ingesting one of the products.
These detergent packets – also known as detergent pods – are relatively new, introduced in 2010. However, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were 6,231 cases of children 5 years old and younger being poisoned after ingesting a packet in 2012. And there were 5,753 such reported cases through July 2013 alone.
The detergent pods can be attractive to young children. They are colorful, soft and small, so youngsters can easily mistake them for candy or teething toys. But they are not playthings. The highly concentrated liquid detergent they contain are extremely harmful and, as shown in the recent tragedy, even deadly to small children. Toddlers who have ingested a single-load detergent packet have required hospitalization due to excessive vomiting, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulty, drowsiness, and other dangerous repercussions.
Steps to Avoiding Single-Load Detergent Packet Harm
The hazards became so pronounced that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued an alert on this dangerous consumer product in October 2012, along with guidelines to help prevent child poisoning:
· Keep the single-load detergent pods in their original packaging and locked up out of the reach of small children
· Under no circumstances allow small children to handle the product
· Call your local poison center (1-800-222-1222) immediately if you suspect your child has been exposed to a laundry detergent pod
Despite numerous warnings, young children continue to be harmed by single-load detergent packets. This illustrates one specific danger, as well as a much larger point: consumers should be protected from any type of defective product. Manufacturers have the obligation to ensure their products are safe. If they fail in this obligation, they should be held accountable for the harm they cause to their victims.