Laundry detergent packets, often referred to as “pods”, are becoming more popular due to their convenience. When using laundry pods, there’s no need to measure out detergent, and there’s never any mess or fuss. You simply grab a pod and toss it into the washing machine. The pre-measured liquid and/or powder detergent enters the load as soon as the material on the outside of the pod dissolves as it becomes wet.
As convenient as these packets are, they’re also potentially dangerous to small children. Detergent makers like Procter & Gamble (Tide and Gain) and Sun Products create their pods to be as small as possible. They’re filled with a highly-concentrated type of detergent that’s more dangerous to humans when ingested by mouth than most types of liquid or powder detergents. The packets are also bright and colorful, containing multiple colors, designs, and textures that give them a candy-like appearance.
When you string these facts together, it should almost come as no surprise that a high number of children have been known to ingest or bite into laundry detergent packets. Detergent pod manufacturers are creating these packets to look like something a child would enjoy eating. The solution seems simple—manufacturers need to redesign these pods so they are not alluring to children.
Despite this somewhat obvious solution and thousands of reports and calls that are made to national poison centers every year, Procter & Gamble, Sun Products, and other detergent packet manufacturers are insistent on designing laundry pods that look like children’s treats. Product liability lawyers like the personal injury attorneys at Urban & Taylor are now organizing lawsuits against these manufacturers, insisting that the health and safety of our children come first.
If you know a child who has suffered or became seriously ill after biting into a laundry detergent pod, filing a Wisconsin laundry detergent pod lawsuit will send a message these corporations can’t ignore. By working together, we can help your child recover medically as well as put an end to dangerous marketing techniques that harm children.
What Makes Laundry Detergent Pods Dangerous?
Every year, poison centers across the U.S. receive thousands of calls regarding children who have bitten into or swallowed the liquid and/or powder detergent found in laundry pods. The numbers are staggering. In 2012, the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) reported that poison centers received over 6,000 calls about laundry packets. In 2013, that number jumped to over 10,000. In 2014, it jumped even higher to almost 12,000. In 2015, it was over 12,500.
In a November 2014 study in Pediatrics, it was revealed that 73.5% of the 2013 cases involving laundry detergent pod exposure that were reported to U.S. poison centers involved children younger than 3 years old. Among those cases, 100 required tracheal intubations. There was also one confirmed death. Other serious reported conditions which required immediate medical care included seizures, coma, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, corneal abrasion, and ocular burns.
In a 2015 article in the Wall Street Journal, it was reported that at least seven adults and children have died from biting into laundry pods since 2012. Most injuries occur when the victim bites into a pod and ingests the liquid inside. Since the liquid is extremely concentrated, it’s far more poisonous than most forms of liquid detergents. The packets themselves are also very easy to bite into since the exterior coating dissolves when coming into contact with water or saliva.
In addition to exposure by mouth, exposure of the liquid to skin and eyes can also be dangerous. The most common symptoms of laundry detergent pod exposure include the following:
- Excessive vomiting
- Shortness of breath
- Loss of consciousness
- Lethargy or drowsiness
- Skin irritation
- Eye irritation
If you find evidence that a child has been playing with a laundry pod and/or spot any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately. Children less than three years old are at an especially high risk of death due to laundry detergent exposure. The younger the child is, the more serious the threat becomes.
How Can We Keep Children Safe from the Dangers of Detergent Pods?
Since 2015, the media and government have helped raise awareness about the dangers of laundry detergent packets and their “candy-like” appearance. P&G (Procter & Gamble) responded by setting up ad campaigns that emphasized how to safely use and store the pods as well as making the detergent pod packaging more difficult for children to open. The packaging has also been changed over time to feature bottles and bags that don’t allow children to see the pods from the outside.
These measures have somewhat lessened the amount of calls U.S. poison control centers get regarding laundry pod exposure, but not by much. In 2016, 11,528 pod exposures were reported to poison centers nationwide in comparison to the 12,594 in 2015. In the first 2 months of 2017 there have been 1,558 reports of exposure.
The statistics alone prove that the small changes detergent makers have made aren’t enough. The packaging that stores the pods isn’t the issue—the pods themselves are. Until detergent manufacturers take steps to change the composition, structure, and/or appearance of the pods, innocent children will continue to endanger themselves. There’s a reason most drugs and poisonous substances come in containers or packets that are aesthetically plain and difficult to open.
Detergent makers have a few options, of course. They could change the pods to be larger in size and use a formula that’s less concentrated. They could make the packets less colorful and bright. They could also wrap the pods in dissolvable material that discourages children from tasting the pods.
Using a dissolvable material that has a poor taste, for example, may do the trick. Other household products like soap and shampoo are created using a bittering agent as to discourage children from placing the product in their mouths. Nintendo even recently used this technique when creating the game cartridges for their latest video game system. The Nintendo Switch handheld system features cartridges that are coated in Denatonium Benzoate, a non-toxic bittering agent. This discourages young children from licking and swallowing the tiny cartridges. Detergent makers could easily do something similar.
A Wisconsin Laundry Detergent Pod Lawsuit Can Encourage Change
Detergent manufacturers have a lot of options. Unfortunately, they seem reluctant to make any significant changes to their laundry pods at this time. With the help of the U.S. legal system, concerned parents and families can encourage the changes that are necessary.
Urban & Taylor, a personal injury law firm in Milwaukee, WI, is committed to helping families fight legal battles against corporations that are reluctant to prioritize the health and safety of our nation’s children. There is no reason laundry detergent pods should resemble colorful candies. These companies need to make it easier for us to keep our families safe.
Our skilled product liability attorneys can help your family file a Wisconsin laundry detergent pod lawsuit if you have a child who was harmed or injured due to ingesting or handling a laundry detergent packet. If enough lawsuits are filed, the manufacturers of these products will have no choice but to make the packets safer and less alluring to children.
If your claim is successful, your family will also receive financial compensation that can go towards medical costs, treatment costs, and more. Contact our Milwaukee law office to learn more. Together, we can keep America’s kids safe.