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Detergent Pods Dubbed “Emerging Public Health Hazard” By CDC Officials

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In an alarming bit of safety news for parents, ABC News is reporting that laundry detergent pods represent a serious and growing health risk for young children, something that has prompted calls for action on the part of manufacturers.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 1,008 cases of detergent poisoning among children during one 30-day period this summer. Of the more than 1,000 cases, 486, or nearly half, were linked to the single serving laundry pods that have become popular in recent years. The problem is so serious that the CDC says poison control centers across the country were regularly reporting 10 such cases every day.

The problem of detergent poisoning is one that largely impacts very young children, those least able to look out for themselves. According to experts, 94 percent of all such laundry detergent poisonings occur in children that are younger than six years old.

While children can injure themselves with even normal laundry detergent, experts say that new detergent pods represent an even more serious danger because children that consume the pods are often sicker than those who ingest other forms of laundry detergent. The issue is so serious that the CDC has said that exposure to the detergent pods represents an “emerging public health hazard in the United States.”

One parent described how her one-year-old daughter ate only one of the detergent pods and how that was enough to cause serious illness, with uncontrolled vomiting and diarrhea occurring before the girl was rushed to the ER. The problem in her case, and many others involving the bright and colorful pods, is that children often mistake them for candy.

Proctor & Gamble, maker of the Tide detergent pods, says it plans to create new childproof packaging for its pods by the summer, creating a double-latch lid and a larger warning label. However, some consumer groups have criticized the company for the new design, saying that it actually looks even more like a giant candy jar.

Other companies say they will add clearer labels to their detergent packages to warn parents of the harm that can occur if the products are ingested by children. Other than labels, companies seem unwilling to do much more to keep the tempting yet dangerous chemicals away from young children. Experts say that until manufacturers take steps to lock down the pods, it will be up to parents to keep them out of reach of children.