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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Detergent packets pose higher poisoning risk to kids than other types of detergent - New study reveals

A new study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Central Ohio Poison Center has revealed that exposure to laundry detergent packets is more dangerous to young children than exposure to other types of laundry and dishwasher detergent.

“Parents and child caregivers need to consider whether the minor potential convenience of laundry detergent packets is worth the poisoning risk to children,” said senior author Dr. Gary A. Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

“Children exposed to laundry detergent packets were significantly more likely to be admitted to a healthcare facility or have a serious medical outcome than those exposed to other types of detergent,” Smith told Reuters Health by email.

The study, published online today in Pediatrics, found that from January 2013 through December 2014 Poison Control Centers in the U.S. received 62,254 calls related to laundry and dishwasher detergent exposures among children younger than 6 years old. The study included calls about both traditional detergent and detergent packets and found that detergent packets accounted for 60 percent of all calls. Almost half (45 percent) of the calls for exposure to laundry detergent packets were referred to a health care facility for evaluation and treatment, significantly more than calls related to exposures to traditional laundry detergent (17 percent), traditional dishwasher detergent (four percent), or dishwasher detergent packets (five percent).

Incidents related to laundry detergent packets saw the biggest rise - increasing 17 percent over the two year study period. Poison control centers 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.

Experts recommend that families with children younger than 6 years old use traditional detergent instead of packets. "Many families don't realize how toxic these highly concentrated laundry detergent packets are," says Marcel J. Casavant, MD a co-author of the study, chief of toxicology at Nationwide Children's Hospital and medical director of the Central Ohio Poison Center. "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."

Parents and child caregivers can help children stay safer by following these tips:
  • People who have young children that live in or visit their home should use traditional laundry detergent, which is much less toxic than laundry detergent packets.
  • Store all laundry detergent including packets up, away, and out of sight - in a locked cabinet is best for laundry packets.
  • Close laundry detergent packet packages or containers and put them away immediately after use.
  • Save the national Poison Help Line number (1-800-222-1222) in your cell phone and post it near your home phones.

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