Whether it’s a 3-year-old putting a bright, squishy detergent pack into his mouth or a 17-year-old taking part in an internet challenge, one thing remains the same — detergent packs are a frightening new risk in households everywhere.
The packs, which contain highly concentrated amounts of detergent and other chemicals, are sold as convenient, pre-measured cleaners for dishwashers and washing machines. But it’s that extreme concentration that makes the convenience just as damaging.
According to Dr. Eugene Izsak, MD, medical director for ProMedica Toledo Children’s Hospital’s emergency center, effects of ingesting any amount of the pods include breathing problems, burns to the esophagus, a drop in blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, eye irritation and temporary or permanent vision loss, and loss of consciousness. If someone has broken open a detergent packet in their mouth, the first step is to assess the situation and then contact the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
In 2017, there were 10,570 cases of exposure to laundry packets by children 5-years-old and younger, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. From 2012 through early 2017, eight deaths were reported to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, two young children and eight adults with dementia.
There appear to be two issues at play — the innocent ingestion of the product by young children or elderly dementia patients, and teenagers or young adults videoing themselves for the internet’s #TidePodChallenge. The goal of prevention in both cases are the same, proper use of the household cleaning items.