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Research Suggests Over 700 U.S. Hospitalizations & 17,000 Poison Control Calls Involving Children Under 6 Years Old Ingesting Detergent Pods; In 2012, When New Product Hit U.S. Markets, Schumer Urged Feds to Require Child Safety Caps and Warning Labels on Containers, But Insufficient Action Has Been Taken


Schumer Supports Federal Legislation to Set Mandatory Safety Standards for Liquid Detergent Pods, Including Child-Proof Packaging & Proper Warning Labels; Schumer Says Protections Are Needed So that It’s More Difficult to Open Containers of Concentrated Detergent Pods

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 for new legislation aimed at protecting the thousands of children that are ingesting dishwasher and laundry detergent gel pods. 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 Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to set mandatory safety standards for easily accessible liquid detergent packets, including child-proof packaging and proper warning labels. These regulations would make aim to make these color packets less appealing and accessible to young children. Schumer said that the CPSC must  issue stronger regulations on packaging and labeling of these products. In May of 2012, Procter and Gamble announced 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.

“Liquid detergent pods are supposed to make household chores easier, however, that these colorful, tempting, yet harmful chemicals found on the laundry room floor or under the kitchen sink are making it harder to keep our kids safe. Despite efforts to better protect our children, insufficient action has been taken,” said Senator Schumer.  “This legislation will require manufacturers to make the product less attractive to children, and for them to use child safe caps on the dispensers in order to better prevent thousands of children from ingesting these detergent pods.”

Specifically, the Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act would give the CPSC the authority to issue rules requiring safer child-resistant packaging for liquid detergent packets within eighteen months. The legislation would require CPSC to set mandatory safety standards to address: child-proof packaging for the container holding liquid detergent packets; design and color of the packets to make them less appealing to children; composition of packets to make consequences of exposures less severe; and proper warning labels that adequately inform consumers of the potential risks. The legislation was introduced by Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL).

In a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics, researchers found that in the last two years more than 17,000 children under the age of 6 have ingested the contents of concentrated detergent, or the contents have come in contact with the children’s eyes. In that study, about 750 were hospitalized. 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 Product 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 of 2012, only 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 had been 2,950 cases nationwide of children aged 5 and younger swallowing these detergent gel pods. At that time, Schumer called on the Consumer Product Safety 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 November, Schumer urged the CPSC and the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and top detergent companies to place child safety caps on the packing of the pods. Schumer said that, because inefficient action has been taken, legislation is needed to require safety standards for liquid detergent packets.  

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.”


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