The striped, multi-colored laundry detergent pods that Tide and other competitors rolled out in February are having unintended consequences – an increase in emergency calls to Poison Control. Why? Because these eye-catching pods are being swallowed by young children and making them ill.
The problem is widespread and accidental swallowing cases are occurring all over the nation. ABC News reported that in the last 20 days there have been 180 calls to Poison Control. WFAA says 57 of those calls were made from Texas and 16 were from right here in North Texas.
What makes them dangerous?
The pods are dangerous to small children for two critical reasons. The first is their size and visual appeal. The bite-sized packets are all too easy for children to swallow or bite into. The brilliant marketing strategy that led to their bright appearance makes them that more alluring to children.
The second reason is that the detergent inside the pods is much more dangerous than regular liquid laundry detergent. If regular detergent is accidentally ingested it will cause only a mild stomach ache, and even then, only in 27% of those who have taken it.
By contrast, the new single dose laundry detergent effects about 66% of those who swallow it with nearly instantaneous symptoms like rapid vomiting, nausea, coughing and difficulty breathing. Some children will become very tired, even to a level of sedation and need an intubation tube to help them breath while their body recovers. Worst case scenario is when a child vomits and then breathes the product into his or her lungs. One 17-month-old who had this happen needed to be put on a ventilator.
How can it be prevented?
It is unlikely at this time that the companies will stop manufacturing detergent pods. Dropps, one of the detergent companies that makes the pods, reminded consumers that like every other household chemical, of course it should be kept out of children’s reach. Tide has stepped in with a more proactive stance and has promised to release new child-proof containers this summer.
Until then, keeping containers out of reach is the first step. In case of an emergency with detergent pods or any other poisons call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222.