Don’t Let Your Child Become a Pod Person
In the classic science fiction film, “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” the people of a beleaguered 1950s town are gradually replaced by perfect alien copies of themselves. The copies grow in people-sized pods.
Alien pods are decidedly creepy. But when it comes to doing the laundry, detergent pods are all the rage. These are self-contained balls of liquid laundry detergent, encased in dissolvable “pods” that you toss into the wash. Some contain fabric softener, too. They’re quick, convenient, and cut down on mess. But are they safe?
Not so much, if you have small children in the home.
That’s the conclusion of Consumers Union, the policy and advocacy arm of Consumer Reports, a nonprofit that objectively evaluates the benefits and drawbacks of consumer products and services. Since mid-2012, Consumer’s Union has been sounding the alarm, calling the pods an emerging health hazard.
The problem evidently has to do with the attractive appearance of these pods. With their bright colors, some resemble candy. As such, children may be drawn to play with them or attempt to eat them. Swallowing concentrated laundry detergent can cause vomiting, or even difficulty breathing. But the greater danger has to do with pods that burst when squeezed.
Some children have suffered severe eye injuries when the pods burst while close to the face. According to Consumer Reports, in the vast majority of cases reported to poison control centers, children accessed the pods independently. In other words, they had little trouble fishing them out of containers. Some manufacturers have responded by making their packaging more difficult for children to get into.
But pod-related injuries keep mounting. Researchers at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center began tracking pod-related eye injuries in 2012. They treated ten cases of eye injury and 20 cases of ingestion. “This consecutive case series highlights the risk of ocular injuries from laundry detergent pods in the United States,” said Michael E. Gray, MD, in a press release. “Parents or caregivers must be aware of the potential for [eye] injury from these pods and prevent access to these chemicals by young children.”
While none of the affected children suffered serious long-term damage, the experience was obviously unpleasant and potentially dangerous. If you have young ones at home, you may want to skip the convenience of detergent “pods”.
Michael E. Gray, Constance E. West. Corneal injuries from liquid detergent pods. Journal of American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jaapos.2014.05.006