candy. We love their convenience, but those colorful, pre-measured detergent pods we toss in the washing machine pose a potential danger to our children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a nationwide warning urging parents to keep laundry detergent pods out of the reach of children. Toddlers and preschoolers may mistake the colorful packets for candy.

Since detergent pods were introduced in 2010, poison control center calls about children putting the candy-colored pellets in their mouths have increased. In 2011, the Central Ohio Poison Center received 97 calls about children ingesting pods. This year, 122 pod-ingestion calls had already been fielded by the end of September, according to the Columbus Dispatch.

In a recent nationwide study, the CDC found that pods were responsible for about half of the 1,008 laundry-soap exposure cases reported during a 30-day period last spring. Ninety-four percent of those pod poisonings involved children age 5 and younger. While children sampling laundry soap is not a new problem, the bad taste usually kept children from ingesting enough to make themselves sick. Unless the child got the detergent in his eyes, most incidents reported to the CDC were harmless.

Pods have ramped up the danger. Pods contain concentrated detergents wrapped in a dissolvable film. When a child puts a pod in his mouth, not only does the film prevent him from tasting the detergent; but the fast-dissolving film quickly exposes the child to enough detergent for a full wash load. Children can become dangerously drowsy after ingesting detergent. They may experience swelling in the back of the throat and suffer breathing problems. In some cases, children have become seriously ill and had to be hospitalized.

At Horizon Education Centers, we are always concerned about child safety. Keep laundry detergents safely secured and out of children’s reach. If your child ingests laundry detergent; sweep out and rinse his mouth, then call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

photo credit: jeffadair