Liquid laundry detergent pods may be convenient, but according to a recent study, the number of young children suffering vision-threatening burns from the chemicals inside them is on the rise. Between 2012 and 2015, over 1,200 preschoolers in the US were reported to suffer eye burns from these single-use detergent pods (in 2012, only 12 such burns were reported; by 2015, that number was almost 500).
Eye injuries linked to laundry detergent pods most often occur when children play with the detergent pods and they break and the liquid squirts into their eyes. Burns also happen when kids get the soap on their hands and then touch their eyes.
As if the laundry detergent hadn’t already faced enough opposition from parents who believed the pods look too much like candy, now children are not only eating them but also playing with them until they burst, causing short and long-term damage to their eyes in some cases. For the past 5 years, many advocates agree that these pods look like toys, look like candy, and kids without adequate supervision are at the worse end of it. Researchers expect the number of burns in 2016 to be higher than 2015; as the numbers have grown every year.
According to the American Cleaning Institute (ACI), an industry trade group, these findings were recorded considering incidents that occurred before the industry introduced a voluntary safety standard for these products. The organization also claims that most detergent manufacturers have already made changes to their products to conform to a new set of guidelines, one of which calls for pods that can withstand squeezing pressure from a child. Companies have also started introducing a bitter substance on their outer layer to deter children from swallowing their contents.
One of the reasons laundry pods can be dangerous is that chemicals in the pods are alkaline rather than acidic, explained researcher Dr. R. Sterling Haring of Johns Hopkins University. “The detergent can burn the cornea, leaving a scar that can impair vision or potentially cause blindness,” Haring said. “In the most severe cases, children may need a corneal transplant to restore vision.”
WHAT TO DO:
If a child has a chemical burn, step one is to rinse the eye with cool water under a faucet for 20 minutes. Experts also advise to call 911 or take the child to an emergency room but do it after you rinse the eye for 20 minutes. The longer those chemicals sit on the eye, the higher the likelihood they are going to leave a lasting burn and threaten vision.
HOW TO PREVENT ACCIDENTS:
Always keep a watchful eye on your young kids, and of course keep laundry pods (as well as all other cleaning products) out of reach of children, preferably locked away.