Just when you thought it was safe to go back to the laundry room . . .

October 18, 2012, 7:18 pm

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Health Hazards Associated with Laundry Detergent Pods — United States, May-June 2012. MMWR 2012 Oct 19;61:825-829.

Full text

First marketed in the U.S. in 2010, laundry detergent pods are capsules of concentrated liquid detergent packaged in a membrane that dissolves in water. Because these capsules look like candy — and come in containers not unlike candy bowls — it is not surprising that reported inadvertent ingestions among small children have been increasing.

This report analyzed all cases of laundry detergent exposures reported to U.S. Poison centers from May 71 – June 17 2012. In that one month period, there were 1,008 total exposures report — 485 (48%) involved pods and 523 (52%) did not. Not surprisingly, non-pod exposures were more likely to involve skin, eye, and inhalational contact.
Among children < 5 years, the most common effects associated with exposure to laundry pods were vomiting and coughing/choking.

In general, I’m not a fan of this type  computerized database study in which a whole bunch of statistical analysis is performed willy-nilly on a hapless set of cases that just happened to be called in to  a local poison center. I didn’t much like this one either. However, there are several interesting short case reports of toddlers who became seriously ill with vomiting and respiratory distress requiring intubation after ingestion of the contents of these pods. Fortunately, there were no deaths and all the children seem to have done well.

Related post:

Look-alike tox: is it laundry detergent of a piece of candy?

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