New Study Sheds Light on Dangers Posed by Laundry Detergent Pods

Dec 12, 2014

As an attorney who specializes in helping people who have been injured by defective products, I receive lots of phone calls from people who have been injured by household products. One of the more surprising sources of injuries is from common household detergents, like the kind almost all of us use in our dishwashers and washing machines. Over the last several years, I have spoken to many people who suffered eye injuries after liquid or powdered soap got into their eyes. To be honest, I used to be surprised by the amount of damage that can occur when the chemicals in common laundry and dishwashing products get in they eye. I know I frequently have to pull apart little detergent pods that have become stuck together, but I never thought about what could happen if the liquid inside squirted out and landed in my eye. However, I have spoken with people who have had this happen, and the results can be scary.

In fact, I’m no longer surprised when I receive these calls. Just last week I spoke with a very nice young woman, a working mother of two small children, who suffered a serious eye injury when she opened a box of powdered laundry detergent and some of the powder flew up and landed in her eye. The powder was simple everyday laundry detergent, but she needed several eye surgeries and has had a permanent decline in vision. It was against this backdrop that I read about a new study that has been published in the journal Pediatrics. The study examined cases of children being harmed as a result of laundry detergent pods. It found that between from 2012-2013, over 17,000 children exposed to laundry detergent pods were reported to US poison control centers. To put this into perspective, one of the study’s authors was quoted in the New York Times explaining that the 17,000 figure amounts to one child per hour being exposed to dangerous chemicals.

Part of the problem is that many detergent pod products are brightly colored. Simply put, they look delicious. They look like candy. And while adults are able to tell the difference, children cannot make the distinction. The results can be catastrophic, as the brightly colored liquid contains very dangerous chemicals. In light of this study, it would make sense for the makers of these products to re-examine their qualities. For while they are undoubtedly convenient, look great, and are producing great profits for the manufactures, they may not be worth it if they are causing harm to one child every hour. There are several steps that manufacturers can take to reduce the risks to children. For example, if the pods are sold in an opaque container, children are less likely to see the pods inside and get into the container. The pods can also be made so that they are less visibly attractive to children. Finally, the manufacturers can be upfront about the dangers, and include warnings on the products and in their advertisements so that parents may make informed decisions. Pods may be a great product for an apartment of college students, but parents of small children may wish to buy another product if they are properly informed about the dangers. As the parents of an infant, my wife and I have decided not to use these products. We have some in our house now, but after seeing the results of this study, we have decided not to buy any more until our child is old enough to know that the pods are not to be eaten.

Unfortunately, not every parent will hear about this study or be made aware of the dangers posed by these colorful pod products. If you or someone you love is injured by one of these products, I hope you will call our office. If an irresponsible manufacturer caused the injury, we may be able to bring about change by holding them responsible for the damage to you and your loved one.