washing machine

Is This Killer Lurking in Your Laundry Room?

Commonly used laundry detergent pods present a potentially toxic hazard to children. These pods, which can contain powder or liquid, may appear as “treats” to young children who may ingest them thinking they are candy. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there were more than 12,500 calls made in 2015 stemming from children ingesting laundry detergent pods. As pods have become more common, the number of calls has more than doubled since 2012.

Children and Elderly at Risk

Children under the age of 6 account for more than 91% of toxic exposures to laundry detergent. However, they are not the only ones at risk. Elderly adults diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s may also mistake laundry detergent pods for candy or seasoning. In all cases, prompt and appropriate medical treatment are necessary to prevent long-term negative health consequences.

Signs of Toxic Exposure

Children and adults do not need to consume large quantities of laundry detergent to exhibit signs of toxic exposure. Signs of toxic exposure to laundry detergent can include vomiting/nausea, choking, coughing, and skin/eye irritation. Symptoms may also include drowsiness, loss of consciousness, and shortness of breath. Children who exhibit these signs should be treated immediately for toxic exposure as these symptoms can lead to comas and have the potential for causing wrongful deaths.

Legislative Proposals

In 2015, Sen. Durbin introduced the Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act. This proposed law would further regulate labeling and product appearance. While the legislation remains in committee, some laundry detergent manufacturers have voluntarily chosen to change their packaging to diminish their appeal to children and make them look less like a snack. In the case of Proctor and Gamble, their voluntary changes have led to a 39% reduction in toxic exposures from the company’s laundry detergent pods. Even so, many laundry detergent pods continue to be marketed and sold by manufacturers who have not made the changes proposed by legislators or regulators.

Liability for Laundry Detergent Pods

Manufacturers have a duty of care to consumers that includes protecting them from potentially toxic exposures. Manufacturers of laundry detergent pods who fail in this duty can be held liable for the personal injuries their products cause. A personal injury attorney in Chicago can help parents and caregivers pursue product liability lawsuits to recover compensation for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.