Children exposed to chemicals used in liquid laundry detergent packets may have serious health effects such as breathing problems, heart problems, and even death, warns a study.
The study, published online in the journal Pediatrics, found that from January 2013 to December 2014 poison control centres in the US received 62,254 calls related to laundry and dishwasher detergent exposures among children younger than six years old.
Incidents related to laundry detergent packets saw the biggest rise — increasing 17 per cent — over the two-year study period. Poison control centres in the US received more than 30 calls a day about children who had been exposed to a laundry detergent packet, which is about one call every 45 minutes.
At least one child a day was admitted to the hospital due to a laundry detergent packet exposure. In addition, the study also saw two child deaths which were associated with exposure to liquid laundry detergent packets. “Many families don’t realise how toxic these highly concentrated laundry detergent packets are,” noted study co-author Marcel Casavant, chief of toxicology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, US.
To curb incidents related to laundry detergent packets exposure, ASTM International — a standards organisation that develops and publishes voluntary consensus technical standards for various products, published a voluntary standard safety specification for liquid laundry packets in 2015. But, according to some experts, the report is ineffective or not substantial enough to reduce unintentional exposures to the contents of laundry detergent packets.
“This voluntary standard is a good first step, but it needs to be strengthened,” one of the researchers Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio said. “Unless this unacceptably high number of exposures declines dramatically, manufacturers need to continue to find ways to make this product and it’s packaging safer for children,” Smith suggested.
Experts recommend that families with children younger than six-years old should use traditional detergent, which is much less toxic than laundry detergent packets, as well as store all laundry detergents up, away, and out of sight of the kids.
“Use traditional laundry detergent when you have young kids in your home. It isn’t worth the risk when there is a safer and effective alternative available,” Casavant pointed out.