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Many children still eating laundry pods

By Reuters - Jun 09,2019 - Last updated at Jun 09,2019

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Many American children are still being poisoned by laundry pods, according to a new study that suggests voluntary safety standards do not do enough to prevent children from eating them. 

Poison control centres fielded nearly 73,000 calls for help related to single-use liquid laundry detergent packets, or pods, from 2012 through 2017, the first six years these products were on the market. Nearly all of these cases were among children under six years old. In many instances, children easily unwrapped brightly coloured packages they mistook for candy. 

The annual rate of laundry pod calls to poison control for kids under six more than doubled from 2012 to 2015, before voluntary safety standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials called for plainer, opaque packages that were harder for children to unwrap. 

Then, from 2015 to 2017, the annual call rate dropped 18 per cent among children under six even as it surged among older children and adults. 

“The current voluntary standard, public awareness campaigns and product and packaging changes to-date are good first steps, but the numbers are still unacceptably high,” said senior study author Gary Smith, director of the Centre for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. 

“We can do better,” Smith said by e-mail. 

It is possible that safety standards fell short of expectations because they allowed manufacturers to meet child-resistant packaging requirements in a variety of ways instead of adhering to a single strict standard, researchers note in Paediatrics. 

Chemicals in laundry pods can cause seizures, coma, severe breathing impairments, eye damage and burns. 

Eight people died in the study after eating laundry pods.  Two of these fatalities involved curious babies. 

“Like other poisons, young children can become much sicker than other older individuals,” Smith said.

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