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Children And Seniors With Dementia Still Being Poisoned By Laundry Detergent Pods, Study Finds

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Liquid laundry detergent packets are popular for their convenience at getting your clothes clean.

But a new study says more needs to be done to prevent poisonings.

The pods are very attractive and that's the problem. They're cute and can look like candy to a child or a person with dementia.

The combination has made for many accidental poisonings.

MORE: NY Lawmakers Call For New Packaging For Toxic Laundry Pods

New research finds U.S. poison control centers received nearly 73,000 calls over five years for liquid laundry detergent packets. Despite a new product safety standard adopted in 2015, the study in pediatrics shows only an 18-percent decrease in exposures in children under six.

Eight deaths have been associated with ingesting the packets. Two were children under a year-old and six were adults with a history of dementia.

"If you have young children or if you have at risk older seniors these really shouldn't be in your house. There are alternatives that are just as good for your laundry, the powders and the liquids detergents," Henry Spiller of the Nationwide Children's Hospital said.

Tide Pods
Tide pods (credit: CBS2)

The study also finds eye injuries from the popular products are increasing in adults. With 700 people ending up in the emergency room last year.

"They pop and they squirt up into your face and if you get it in your eye it can be a significant injury," Spiller added.

Spiller is the director of the Central Ohio Poison Center at Nationwide Children's Hospital. He said more needs to be done to prevent these accidental exposures.

"We would like for them to individually wrap and we have seen dishwasher detergent packets come individually wrapped. From a manufacturing standpoint, it's not a big step for them to individually wrap the laundry detergent packets and we would like them to take that step. Right now, it's voluntary and they haven't."

Here are ways you can help prevent injury from laundry pods in homes with young children, people with dementia, or disabilities:

  • Keep it traditional: Regular laundry detergent is much less toxic than pods.
  • Store safely: Keep all laundry detergent up, away and out of sight, preferably in a locked cabinet. And...
  • Know the poison help line number: It's 1-800-222-1222. Put it in your cell phone and post it next to your landline.

About six percent of exposures in the study resulted in serious medical outcomes, again, partly because those packets are more toxic than traditional liquids and powders.

Researchers added more study is needed to determine how the packet contents can be made less toxic.

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