According to a recent study published in Pediatrics, exposure to laundry and dishwasher detergent pods increased 17% and 14%, respectively, among children under age six from 2013 to 2014, with most exposures (85%) occurring through ingestion. Researchers reported these findings after analyzing data from the National Poison Data System on reported exposures to packet and non-packet laundry and dishwasher detergents. The researchers identified 62,254 cases of pediatric exposures to these detergents, with exposure to laundry detergent pods accounting for 35.4% of these cases.
Researchers found that children exposed to laundry detergent pods were 3.9 to 8.2 times more likely to experience clinical effects, most commonly vomiting, than children exposed to any other detergent type or form. They found that children under age 3 were at the highest risk of exposure due to the large amount of time they spend in the home, their newfound mobility, and their curiosity leading to exploratory and mouthing behavior. Exposure to laundry pods was linked to coma, respiratory arrest, pulmonary edema, and the deaths of two children.
A CNN article discussing the study explains that laundry pods were introduced in the United States in 2012 as a less messy alternative to detergent powder. They are typically colorful and have strong fragrances, characteristics that are thought to attract children. Researchers recommend storing the pods out of sight in a locked cabinet and that the parents of children under age six use traditional laundry detergent rather than pods.