The packaging used to appeal to consumers may be a hazard when children are considered. Single wash packets of laundry detergent are often wrapped in brightly colored packaging that toddlers can easily mistake for candy. The products are highly dangerous when ingested and cause serious esophageal burns and vomiting and difficulty breathing. A recent report by British doctors has brought attention to a problem that is common in the U.S. as well as the U.K.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers said that the period between January 1 and July 31 saw nearly 2,200 incidents of children swallowing laundry detergent packets or getting the substance into their eyes. The outer casing of these packets is designed to dissolve quickly in water, so the detergent can get to the clothes in a washing machine soon after the cycle begins. When placed in the mouth of a child, the casing dissolves and the detergent is released.
These injuries are a reminder to parents and guardians of the dangers of seemingly innocuous household products. A single wash packet of detergent can easily be dropped on the floor or left on a machine while it is running, causing it fall on the floor while the machine is vibrating. Once on the floor, it becomes a highly attractive toy to a small child.
While parents should be vigilant, manufacturers should also be more careful in designing the packaging of their products. Bright, primary colors are a signal to children that an object is meant for them. When a product that is poisonous is packaged in an extremely child-friendly way, it is likely to lead to problems.
Source: U.S. News and World Report, “Laundry Detergent Packs Pose Poisoning Threat to Toddlers,” by Jenifer Goodwin, 6 September 2012