Study: New packaging cuts laundry packet poisonings slightly

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WPVI) -- Education campaigns and packaging changes haven't done much to reduce poisonings from liquid laundry detergent packets, according to a new study by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

The Center has been watching the problem since the pods came onto the market and calls to poison control centers around the nation surged.

In 2012, 500 children were sicked in a 30-day period.

In 2013, the leading maker of laundry products began making changes to the products and launched an awareness campaign to reduce exposures.

However, the Center found only a modest decrease in a exposures to children 6 and under, and an increase in calls for older children and adults.

A study published online today in Pediatrics found that during 2017, there was an average of one call every 42 minutes.

There were 8 deaths due to ingesting laundry pods during the study period - 2 involved children 7 and 16 months old. The other 6 involved adults 43 years of age or older with a history of dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and developmental disabilities.

Liquid laundry detergent packets have been a been a big convenience for consumers.

And they've revolutionized the cleaning products industry, with dishwasher detergent and other cleaning products now packaged in them, too.

"The voluntary standard, public awareness campaign and packaging changes to-date are good first steps, but the numbers are still unacceptably high," said Dr. Gary Smith, senior author of the study.

"We can do better," he added.

Dr. Smith believes one reason for the slight decline is because the standards are voluntary, not mandatory.
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