Health Hazards Associated with Laundry Detergent Pods

WASHINGTON, November 11, 2014 - During May and early June 2012, the Carolinas Poison Center and the Poison Control Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia received four reports of children with vomiting, mental status changes, and respiratory distress after ingesting the contents of laundry detergent pods.

Laundry detergent pods are single-load capsules that contain concentrated liquid detergent within a water-soluble membrane that dissolves when in contact with moisture (1).

Laundry detergent pods were introduced in the U.S. market in 2010, and multiple manufacturers now sell laundry detergent packaged in pods (2–4). On May 17, 2012, CDC and the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) began tracking and characterizing reported exposures to laundry detergent from pods. During May 17–June 17, 2012, poison centers reported 1,008 laundry detergent exposures to the National Poison Data System (NPDS), of which 485 (48%) exposures involved laundry detergent pods. Age was recorded for 481 exposures, of which 454 (94%) exposures involved children aged ≤5 years. Among children aged ≤5 years, a significantly greater proportion of those exposed to laundry detergent from pods had gastrointestinal and respiratory adverse health effects and mental status changes compared with those with non-pod laundry detergent exposures.

Parents and caregivers should keep laundry detergent pods, as well as other household cleaning products, out of reach and out of sight of children. Health-care providers should be aware that exposure to laundry detergent from pods might be associated with adverse health effects more often than exposure to non-pod laundry detergents.

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