Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports magazine, is calling for new safety measures to address the growing problem of young children who ingest laundry detergent “pods” — colorful single-load packages that resemble candy — in the wake of a new federal report about children poisoned by the products.
The new report, issued this week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found poison centers in Pennsylvania and North Carolina logged reports of children vomiting, and experiencing mental health problems and respiratory distress after ingesting the contents of laundry detergent pods.
Laundry detergent pods are single-load capsules that contain concentrated liquid detergent that dissolve when in contact with moisture. Laundry detergent pods were introduced in 2010, and multiple manufacturers now sell them.
In May and June, CDC said poison centers reported 1,008 laundry detergent-related cases, about half of which involved pods in kids under 5 years of age.
CDC has called the pods as "an emerging public health hazard in the U.S.," and advised parents and caregivers to keep them, as well as other household cleaning products, out of reach of children.
Last month, Consumers Union wrote the Consumer Product Safety Commission to urge regulators to consider regulations to require adequate child-safe packaging, as well as prominent warning labels, for pods. CU has called on manufacturers to consider changing the color of these products, package them differently to make them less appealing to children, or introduce safer containers.
Procter and Gamble recently introduced a double-latch lid for its Tide Pods containers, but CU remains concerned that the old packing is still being sold in stores.
“The CDC report shines a spotlight on a serious problem,” said Urvashi Rangan, a safety expert with Consumer Reports. “These pods may look like candy, but they’re toxic, and we’re seeing more reports of young children being harmed. In some cases, kids have been placed on ventilators or had surgery to treat swelling and ulceration injuries. We need manufacturers to make their products safer, and we need to take measures to educate people about the dangers and require better packaging and labeling.”