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Schumer Steps Up Call & Says Consumer Product Safety Commission Must Enforce New Standards for Child-Proof Lids for Toxic Detergent Pods, & Top Detergent Manufacturers Must Immediately Step Up & Adhere to Those Protections

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

In Light of New Research Showing Over 700 U.S. Hospitalizations & 17,000 Poison Control Calls Involving Children Under 6 Years Old, Schumer Says That Feds Should Expedite Work With Detergent Companies to Create Protections So that It’s More Difficult to Open Containers of Concentrated Detergent Pods

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today stepped up his call for increased protections for the thousands of children that are ingesting dishwasher and laundry detergent gel pods, and called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and top detergent companies to place child safety caps on the packaging of these 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. Schumer has previously called on the CPSC to issue stronger regulations on packaging and labeling of these products, yet action has been insufficient thus far. Schumer said that the American Cleaning Institute, the major trade group for detergent manufacturers, must work with the feds to finalize and implement standards to place better safety measures and protections on these products, including child-proof lids and warning labels.

Schumer said that Procter and Gamble announced in May of 2012 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 said that all companies must follow suit, given the evidence that these gel pods are still getting into the hands of young children and putting them at serious risk.

“While these pods are supposed to make household chores easier, it’s clear 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” said Schumer.  “The common sense solution to this problem is for manufacturers and federal consumer protection experts to make the product less attractive to children, 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 top detergent companies can’t put protections in place, in light of the astounding data that 17,000 children have ingested these detergent pods in the last two years.” 

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.  Since then, the CPSC has issued some safety alerts, but Schumer said that it’s clear more must be done.

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.”

Schumer today renewed his called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to work with the American Society for Testing and Materials as well as industry to implement 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.

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