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Emerging health risk: Every day more than 30 children get into liquid laundry packets

June 30, 2015

With liquid laundry packets gaining in popularity -- now used by 20 percent of U.S. households -- parents need to be aware of this emerging risk for children.

Dangers for kids

Between 2012 and 2013, more than 700 children age five and under experienced serious effects as a result of ingesting liquid laundry packets, with the impact greatest among 1- and 2-year olds. In fact, the poison centers received more than 33,000 calls from 2012 through May 2015.

Safe Kids Worldwide and Tide and Gain have teamed up to teach parents how to keep kids safe around liquid laundry packets.

“Children love to explore and, as they grow, often discover the world by touching and putting things into their mouths,” said Mandi Summers, coordinator, Safe Kids of Western MA, headquartered at Baystate Children's Hospital.

These packets are a concentrated, single-dose product designed to dissolve in water, so when they come in contact with wet hands or mouths, they start to dissolve and might release the concentrated liquid inside.

If children get into laundry packets, the health risk can be significant. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, children can experience loss of consciousness, difficulty breathing, excessive vomiting, severe eye burns, and temporary vision loss.

Prevention tips

“Luckily, the solution to protect children in the home against laundry packet poisoning is simple,” said Summers. “It’s ensuring that parents and caregivers are taking preventative measures to keep it from happening, and knowing what to do in case additional help is needed.”

To prevent poisoning, Summers and Emergency Department physicians at Baystate Franklin Medical Center offered simple tips to keep children safe:
  • Keep liquid laundry packets out of children’s reach and sight.
  • Keep packets in their original container and keep the container closed.

If a child gets into them, call the Poison Help number immediately, 1-800-222-1222.