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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 10, 2012

SCHUMER: NEW COLORFUL, EXTRA-TOXIC DETERGENT PODS LOOK LIKE CANDY AND HAVE BEEN EATEN BY ALMOST 3,000 YOUNG CHILDREN – URGES FEDS TO REQUIRE CHILD-SAFE CAPS AND OTHER PROTECTIONS



New Product is Convenient, But Detergent Is Concentrated and Particularly Dangerous to Ingest, Putting Young Kids At Risk

Schumer Urges Feds to Take Common Sense Step, Require Child Safety Caps and Warning Labels on Containers, Similar to Those Placed on Rx Drug Bottles

Doctors, Consumer Advocates, and Medical Journals Have Been Sounding Alarm About Pods – Dozens of Cases Have Been Reported In NYC and LI

 

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to put forward regulations that result in child safety caps on the packaging of dishwashing and laundry detergent gel pods that are posing serious risks to young children. The gel pods, which are relatively new to the United States, are small in size and come in a variety of bright colors, making them attractive to children, who confuse them for candy. The gel pods, which contain a single dose of detergent, are particularly dangerous to young children because detergent is highly concentrated. Schumer also urged the companies to immediately consider offering these products with child-safe caps on their own.  

Schumer was joined by Dr. Maida P. Galvez of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine; Dr. Tamara Kuittinen of Lenox Hill Hospital; Daniel Kass, Deputy Commissioner of NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; and Chuck Bell of the Consumer’s Union.

“These pods were supposed to make household chores easier, not tempt our children to swallow harmful chemicals,” said Schumer.  “The common sense solution to this problem is for manufacturers to make the product less colorful, and for them to use child safe caps on the dispensers.  Child safe caps are commonly used on prescription drug bottles, and there is no reason in the world that those protections can’t be used on another product that can be equally dangerous.” 

 

The problem of children consuming these pods, meant for the washing machines or dishwashers, is growing as the products gain popularity in the United States, and the symptoms are severe. The effects of ingesting gel pods include vomiting, dizziness, drowsiness, trouble breathing, and a number of children have been hospitalized. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission, these packets pose more serious problems when ingested than liquid or powder detergent. Young children can suffer from serious eye damage when the gel pod bursts open and eleven children have been placed on ventilators.

 

In May, 200 cases had been reported to poison control centers nationwide.  That skyrocketed to 1,210 by the end of June. In April, May and June alone, 40 cases have been reported in New York City and a dozen have been reported on Long Island.  According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there have been 2,950 cases nationwide of children aged 5 and younger swallowing these detergent gel pods.

 

Schumer is asking for the Commission to consider implementing both voluntary and mandatory child resistant packaging on gel pods, like those found on prescription drug bottles, as well as more prominent warning labels. Schumer said the agency should immediate put forward safety standards that manufacturers can adhere to, and begin the sometimes lengthy process that will ultimately result in such child resistant packaging being required.  In Europe, where the pods have been on the market for years and have caused many more injuries, doctors are sounding the alarm, warning parents not to purchase the product.   A paper published this month in the Archives of Diseases in Childhood outlined the growing scope of the problem, saying “Dishwasher and washing machine liquitabs are now a common finding in most homes but unfortunately seem very attractive to young children.”

 

Dishwashing and detergent “gel pods” are small pods that contain dishwasher or laundry detergent, and are designed to make household chores easier by reducing spills and eliminating uncertainty.  Due to their convenience, these products are becoming more and more popular in households in New York and across the country.  As they have grown more popular, reports have shown that there is a growing number of young children that are swallowing the gel pods because of their bite size packaging, bright colors and candy jar-like container.

 

After skyrocketing reports of children ingesting the detergent gel pods, Procter and Gamble announced in May that they would be implementing a new double-latch lid for the Tide Pods containers, making it much more difficult for children to open the packaging. Schumer noted that the Tide company should be applauded for their efforts and concern about this ongoing problem however, it is clear that these gel pods are still getting into the hands of young children and more needs to be done.

 

Schumer today called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to implement both voluntary and mandatory standards for child safety caps and more prominent warning labels on detergent gel pods.  According to the Poison Prevention Act of 1970,15 U.S.C. §§ 1471-1476, the Consumer Product Safety Commission has the authority to require child resistant packaging on a wide range of hazardous house hold products, in addition to prescription drugs.

 

 

A copy of Schumer’s letter can be found below: 

 

Chairman Inez Moore Tenenbaum

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

4330 East West Highway

Bethesda, MD 20814

 

Dear Chairman Inez Moore Tenenbaum,

 

I write today to urge the Consumer Product Safety Commission to increase safety requirements for dishwashing and laundry detergent pods after the skyrocketing number of cases of children consuming these pods.  Detergent pods, first sold in Europe, began sales in the Unites States for the first time this year and we’ve already seen a stunning number of children consume the colorful packets that resemble candy.  More must be done to protect our children.

 

The pods are particularly dangerous for children because the detergent is very concentrated.  The effects of ingesting a pod include vomiting, drowsiness and respiratory problems.  The symptoms can be so severe in some children that they require hospitalization and a ventilator.  According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers there have already been 2,950 cases nationwide of kids aged 5 and younger swallowing these dishwashing and laundry detergent pods.  Locally, New York Poison Control has received forty cases in New York City and thirteen calls from Long Island reporting the ingestion of detergent in the form of pods.  These cases are likely to be just the beginning.

 

With the recent rise in the manufacturing of such products, parents have been warned of the dangers posed by detergent pods, but more needs to be done.  The Consumer Product Safety Commission must fully explore both mandatory and voluntary safety requirements for companies to follow in order to prevent children from being able to access and consume detergent products.

 

Thank you for your time and attention in this important matter.  I look forward to your reply.

 

Sincerely

 

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senate

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