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'These really are a problem': Study raises alarms over detergent pods
A growing number of young children are ingesting detergent pods despite numerous warnings that the colourful packets of highly-concentrated cleaners can be easily mistaken for candy.
A new study published in the May 2016 edition of Pediatrics found U.S. poison control centres received 62,254 calls in 2013 and 2014 for children under six years old who had been exposed to laundry and dishwasher detergent packets.
The study showed a 17 per cent increase in unintentional exposure to laundry detergent pods and a 14 per cent increase in exposure to dishwasher detergent packets.
The study's co-author Henry Spiller, director of the Central Ohio Poison Center, said detergent pods are far more dangerous than liquid or granular detergent.
"It's a different animal. These are much more dangerous than the laundry detergent you're used to," Spiller told CTV News Channel on Monday.
He said the pods contain different ingredients that are far more concentrated than traditional detergent.
He said when a child bites down on a pod, the detergent often squirts to the back of their throat and can get into their lungs.
"We've had to intubate these patients. We've had several fatalities in children," Spiller said.
The study found that laundry detergent packets containing liquid detergent were the most harmful to children who ingested them, resulting in 17 cases of coma, six cases of respiratory arrest, four cases of pulmonary edema and two cases of cardiac arrest.
During the study period, there were 2 deaths linked to laundry detergent packets exposure.
Two-year-olds accounted for 30.3 per cent of laundry detergent exposures and 16.3 per cent of dishwasher detergent exposures.
Health officials have warned about the dangers of detergent pods since they hit the market in 2012.
Spiller said in recent years detergent companies have changed the packaging of the pods to make them less attractive to children.
"But we still literally see 10,000 (in hospital) a year," he added.
In 2015, the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program studied 54 cases of exposure to laundry detergent packets were reported to emergency departments since 2012.
The surveillance program, a joint project of the Canadian Paediatric Society and the Public Health Agency of Canada, monitors rare diseases in children.
Out of the 54 cases, 46 per cent of patients were admitted to hospital and six were treated in intensive care units.
In 2012 Health Canada warned that the "brightly coloured packets with their squishy texture" are attractive to children.
Spiller's message to parents with young children is to use liquid laundry or dishwasher detergency instead of the pods.
"If you do have these in your home, please make sure they're locked up high and have the poison control number available, because these really are a problem," he added.