Pod Problem: Industry Responds to Concerns about Detergent Poison Risks

Poison control and pediatric groups are sounding the alarm over the rise of laundry detergent pods, small colorful objects that pose a danger to small children. The association that represents cleaning product manufacturers says it's been working to improve packaging.

Laundry detergent pods, which have grown in popularity for their convenience, pose significant poisoning risks for small children, who may mistake them for toys or candy, a recent study notes.

But rather than sit on the sidelines, a key industry group is pushing its members to be proactive on the issue. More details:

About the study: On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a new study highlighting the risks to children from exposure to the pods. The study, covering data from the National Poison Data System between 2012 and 2013, found that 17,230 children were exposed to the pods, leading to more than 750 hospitalizations and at least one death. “Because children may be enticed by the colorful, candy-like appearance of detergent pods, the study authors conclude that a national safety standard is needed to improve product packaging and labeling,” AAP said in a news release.

More concentrated, more dangerous: Since the products were introduced to the market in 2012, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has warned multiple times of the dangers that the single-pack items can cause for young children. AAPCC notes that the packets appear to be significantly more dangerous than  laundry detergent not in pod form, causing serious breathing and eye problems. “Poison centers receive many calls each year about children getting into laundry detergent,” the association said in a recent alert. “Swallowing it often causes mild stomach upset, if there are any symptoms at all, but poison center experts say the new highly concentrated single-load liquid laundry detergent packets seem to be different.” From January through October 2014, 9,935 children under the age of 5 have been exposed to the packets, AAPCC says.

A coordinated response: The American Cleaning Institute this week offered a lengthy response to the study, highlighting the steps that the industry group has taken to ensure consumer safety, including issuing voluntary guidance for manufacturers to improve the products’ packaging and labeling. “The guidance provides best practices for the household laundry products industry in the labeling and design of packaging for liquid laundry packets,” ACI said in its response. “This guidance encourages that safe handling and usage information is clear and prominently placed on the label.”

Last year AAPCC applauded Procter & Gamble for updating the packaging of Tide Pods.

“The Procter & Gamble product had been sold in clear packages in which the colorful packets were easily visible to children,” AAPCC President Marsha Ford said in a July 2013 news release. “Making the packaging opaque hopefully will help reduce the temptation of children to get into the product.”

Procter and Gamble updated its Tide Pods packaging last year over poison control concerns. (press photo)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!