Mon, Jun 08, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Detergent pods present poison risk to children

PACKAGING PROBLEM:The small capsules are not yet common in local brick-and-mortar stores and are mostly sold online, the Consumer Protection Committee said

By Wu Liang-yi and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The Executive Yuan’s Consumer Protection Committee reminded parents of the potential danger of laundry capsules — often brightly colored and easily mistaken for sweets by children — after a child died of poisoning last year after mistakenly swallowing a detergent pod

A total of 769 children in the US were treated for detergent poisoning after consuming laundry capsules in 2013, the committee said.

If ingested, detergents might lead to severe vomiting, coughing, difficulty breathing, nausea, fatigue and other complications, the committee said.

Ocular exposure to the detergents might cause pink eye, pain and inflammation, while skin exposure to the chemicals could result in rashes, inflammation or burns, the committee said.

The laundry pods — liquid detergents encased in a water-soluble film — have been a top-selling product since hitting the US market in 2010, the committee said.

However, there were more than 17,000 reported cases in the US involving children under six mistakenly eating the pods as of 2012, the committee said.

Laundry capsules are not commonly seen in brick-and-mortar stores in Taiwan, but are mostly sold online, the committee said.

Some online sellers market “natural,” “non-poisonous” and “fragrance-free” detergent capsules for children’s clothing, with the product packaged in plain white wrappers to avoid confusion with sweets by children, the committee said, adding that children might still confuse the white capsules with cotton candy.

Taipei Medical University Hospital emergency physician Kao Wei-fong (高偉峰) said that neither emesis — forced vomiting — nor consuming a large amount of water or milk is recommended in accidental poisoning in children, as they could lead to extra damage to the digestive system and respiratory tract.

The best way to treat poisoning in children is to take them to hospital, he said.

Telephone numbers for poison crisis call centers are usually printed on detergent packaging, and people can call for help during emergencies, he said.

Buyers should exercise caution when buying those products and parents should put laundry capsules in opaque packaging and lock them away from children, the committee said.

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