Consumer Reports Warns Liquid Laundry Detergent Pods Could Prove Fatal
Liquid laundry detergent packets could pose serious dangers especially for adults with dementia, Consumer Reports warns. The article gives the example of an 87-year-old woman in Texas who died after eating two liquid laundry detergent packets. This woman’s death is one of eight fatalities linked to ingesting liquid laundry packets in the U.S. between 2012 and 2017 that have been reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Two of these deaths involved young children and six involved adults with dementia.
Risk to Children and Older Adults
Safety officials are warning caregivers and children of seniors to be aware that ingesting certain liquid laundry packets could prove tragic. Water, wet hands and even saliva can dissolve the packets and release the highly toxic detergent. Liquid laundry detergent packets are particularly dangerous for children because they are squishy like toys and colorful like candy drawing kids to them. In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a report saying that for children under 6, exposure to the detergent in pods is “an emerging public health hazard.”
Consumer Reports says it has been urging manufacturers to make these packets safer since they were released in 2012. It is asking consumers to keep laundry packets out of households where children under 6 may be present. They are recommending that these laundry pods be kept away from households where adults with dementia live. Some manufacturers have made changed to the packaging and product itself, but the pods continue to pose serious risks. Sales of laundry pods totaled $1.2 billion over a recent 12-month period and accounted for 17 percent of all laundry detergent sales.
According to the CDC, 5.4 million adults in the U.S. live with Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors say that people who have moderate to severe dementia may mistakenly attempt to eat items that are not food. For example, a hungry person with dementia looking for food in the kitchen may misidentify a box of detergent as cereal. For people with a certain kind of dementia, they may just become increasingly obsessed with putting things in their mouths.
Steps Toward Safety
While manufacturers are doing things to make these products safer, much needs to be done. In 2015, manufacturers adopted a voluntary standard where they add a bitter substance to the outer film of the packet and make them more difficult to burst and slower to dissolve. While manufacturers like P&G claim that these types of efforts have led to a 39 percent decrease in accidental exposure rates, it’s relative to the number sold, which has increased.
Manufacturers of these products have a duty and a responsibility to make them safe for all consumers. When they are not safe, there should be proper warnings alerting consumers about the potential dangers of the products. If you or a loved one has been affected by a dangerous or defective product, please contact an experienced product defect attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.