Injuries to Children and the Risk of Laundry Pods

Laundry ‘pods’ – essentially pre-packaged detergent that can be thrown in the machine with no need to measure it – have only been around for a few years but have quickly become popular here in Oregon and across the country. As a recent story on MyCentralOregon.com details, however, they also pose a significant risk of Oregon injuries to children – a risk critical enough that the industry is being forced to take note.

According to the website “after tens of thousands of calls from frightened caregivers to poison control centers across the country” the products are being remade. The site reports that according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers there were nearly 12,000 incidents involving laundry pods and children age six or younger last year. This year there were 7,184 such incidents through July – a figure that puts the country on pace to surpass that shocking 2014 number.

As a result Consumer Reports is recommending that people with young children in the house not use liquid laundry pods. When swallowed, the liquid detergent can “sometimes cause children to experience excessive vomiting and difficulty breathing,” MyCentralOregon reports.

In response, the site reports, the industry is adopting new standards designed to protect children. These include: adding flavoring to the outer skin of the packet to make them taste “repulsive.” Making the packets themselves neither transparent nor translucent. Adding new warning statements on both the box and the packets themselves and, perhaps most obviously, making the individual pods harder to break open or bite through.

As a Portland lawyer whose practice focuses on injuries to children I am pleased to see that this popular product is going to become safer, but disappointed to note that according to MyCentralOregon it, once again, took government pressure to get big corporations to do the right thing. The voluntary steps the companies making laundry pods are taking come at the prompting of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which also worked with safety advocates and consumer groups on the issue. The question that has to be asked is why it takes this kind of pressure, and the implicit threat of mandatory government action, to get the manufacturers to do what is so obviously the right thing? The outcome here is good, but the process involved in getting there says a lot about corporate America.

 

MyCentralOregon.com: Laundry ‘Pods’ Get Makeover After Child Safety Risks