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Poison Control Calls for Exposure to Liquid Laundry Detergent Packets Decreased Slightly But Remain Hazardous

6/3/2019

After public awareness campaigns and adoption of a voluntary product safety standard for liquid laundry detergent packets, the number of children under age 6 exposed to liquid laundry detergent packets declined only modestly between 2015 and 2017.  A study in the July 2019 issue of Pediatrics shows that exposures were also rising among older children and adults and remain a concern for all ages. The study, “Safety Interventions and Liquid Laundry Detergent Packet Exposures,” (published online June 3) analyzed data provided to the National Poison Data System from 2012 through 2017. During those years, U.S. poison control centers received 72,947 calls related to liquid laundry detergent packets, nearly 92% of which involved children under age 6. Liquid laundry detergent packets, first sold in the United States in 2012, likely attract children because of the toy- and candy-like appearance of the packets. They have been identified as a poison hazard associated with serious medical outcomes, including central nervous system and respiratory depression, eye injuries, pneumonitis and death. Beginning in the spring and summer of 2013, the leading U.S. manufacturer of laundry detergent packets began implementing a series of changes to the product, including opaque packaging, container latches and warning labels. The AAP and other child safety and advocacy organizations conducted public awareness campaigns about the hazards of laundry detergent packets. A new voluntary safety standard for liquid laundry detergent packets was adopted in 2015. Between 2015 and 2017, the number and rate of exposures to these products in children younger than 6 decreased by only 18%. Among children ages 6 and older, the number and rate of exposures to liquid laundry detergent packet exposures rose between 2012-2017 by 292.7% and 277.2%, respectively. Eight deaths were associated with liquid laundry packets, including two children under age 2, and six deaths in adults age 43 and older. All the adults who died had a history of dementia or developmental disabilities. Researchers conclude that the liquid laundry detergent packet safety standard should be strengthened.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds