Parents are always looking for products that make the everyday chores a bit easier, simpler, or better. The newly designed single-use laundry detergent packets promise to do just that.
They are highly concentrated, brightly colored square capsules of laundry soap wrapped in plastic. They are supposed to make life easier by dissolving as soon as they come in contact with the water in a washing machine, eliminating the need for measuring detergent.
This can save time and the invariable mess liquids and powders can make. But now these pods are also seen as yet another potential choking hazard to young children.
Since these products started appearing in stores this Spring, there have been nearly 3 thousand instances of children 5 years of age and under swallowing a detergent pod, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
This figure is up 600 percent from the numbers being reported in May. The pods are produced by several laundry detergent companies, including giants like Procter & Gamble, and their festive coloring, sweet smell, and tiny size make them look and smell similar to candy.
The children who get these detergent packets in their mouths are having some extreme reactions.
The concentrated nature of these pods make them even more dangerous than "just" a choking hazard. When a child bites into one, the detergent reacts in their bodies immediately and in a much different way than if a child ate regular laundry soap.
Reactions can include diarrhea, vomiting, drowsiness and respiratory problems.
Some kids who ingest one of these laundry packets have symptoms that resemble a stomach virus. Others have more severe problems that require hospitalization and even a ventilator.
Though many people agree that these packets can pose a major danger in households with young children, the Consumer Product Safety Commission is not ready to pull them off the shelves just yet. They are looking into the complaints and are monitoring the situation right now.
They want parents to be cautious about where and how they keep potentially hazardous products.