Florida Boy Dies after Eating Liquid Laundry Packet By Tod Aronovitz | 08/19/13 | 0 Comment

A 7-month-old boy in central Florida tragically died last week after accidentally eating a laundry packet, the state’s Department of Children and Families said. If confirmed, the incident may be the first reported death in the country tied to the soft and colorful detergent packets, which often look like candy or teething toys to children.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), more than 5,700 children aged five and under have been exposed to the dangerous chemicals in the concentrated detergent packets from January 1 to July 31, 2013. That figure comes close to the 6,231 total incidents reported in 2012.

Because the products are so attractive to kids and because they induce serious symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) started distinguishing pod vs. non-pod detergent poisoning in May 2012 to track the number of these accidents.

As reported in our March 28 Aronovitz Blog post, “Liquid Laundry Packets can Poison Children, Warns CPSC,” ingestion of the products’ highly-concentrated toxic detergents may cause loss of consciousness, excessive prolonged vomiting, drowsiness, throat swelling, and difficulty breathing. Product contact with the eyes has also caused severe irritation and temporary loss of vision.

In the incident involving the baby boy, Kissimmee authorities responded to a call at a women’s shelter, according to an August 15 article in the Orlando Sentinel. The article described that the child’s mother had placed detergent pods, handed out by the shelter, inside a laundry basket on the bed where her son was sleeping. She stepped away, and when she returned, the boy had eaten one packet of the highly concentrated detergent packets and was starting on a second one.

The boy was coughing but alert and breathing when emergency responders arrived; however, his condition worsened at the hospital, and he later died. The Florida Department of Children and Families said it will take several weeks before medical examiners can make an official ruling on the cause of death.

As a result of the prevalence of these episodes, the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) is working with detergent manufacturers to prevent additional ingestions and eye injuries to both children and adults.

Companies such as P&G, Henkel and Sun Products have been attempting to reduce the risk by phasing in opaque containers, introducing “child deterrent” tub closures, placing additional warnings on their packaging, and collaborating with industry groups to educate parents on the dangers of these products and how to store and handle them properly.

If you think a child has been exposed to a laundry-detergent packet, call your local poison center immediately at 1-800-222-1222.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises parents and caregivers to:

  • Keep all cleaning supplies, including detergent packets, locked up where young children can’t see or reach them.
  • Do not let children handle the detergent packets. Adults should make sure their own hands are dry before handling them.
  • Keep packets sealed in their original packaging. Never store them in food containers, cups or bottles.
  • Lock away any product, including those in the garage and medicine cabinet, that is dangerous to young children.
  • Even if a package seems childproof, it should be kept out of sight and reach.

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