Liquid laundry packets, which have previously been linked to thousands of poisoning incidents as children mistake them for toys or candy, are now responsible for a growing number of eye injuries in children.
Also known as laundry detergent pods, liquid laundry packets were introduced in the U.S. in 2010.
They are made up of concentrated liquid detergent inside a membrane, which dissolves when in water. The liquid laundry packets are colorful and small.
According to reports, eye injuries occur when kids squeeze and pop the packets, causing the detergent to squirt in their eye; or the detergent gets on their hands and they proceed to rub their eyes.
According to R. Sterling Haring, a physician researcher at the John Hopkins Center for Injury Research and Policy, most parents are unaware that the packets may potentially harm their children’s vision.
Eye injuries logged in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System from 2010 until the end of 2015 were analyzed by Haring and his colleagues. The study searched for incidents that led to chemical burns or conjunctivitis affecting 3 and 4 year olds.
According to JAMA Ophthalmology, between 2012 and 2015, preschool aged kids who received chemical burns to the eye caused by liquid laundry packets surged 32-fold. An industry group countered that the study analyzed data prior to the new voluntary safety standards implemented to prevent like injuries.
In the age group from 3 to 4, the first eye injuries from the laundry packets were reported in 2012, with 12 documented for that year. By the end of 2015, 480 injuries were documented.
The American Cleaning institute introduced a voluntary safety standard to ensure the packets will be durable enough to withstand a child constantly squeezing the packet, this concept was created December 2015.
The standard also demands that the soluble membrane will taste bitter in order to keep the contents out of children’s mouths, and the packaging to be dull in order to be less likely to attract the attention of children.
A statement reports that “Manufacturers of liquid laundry detergent packets are very committed to reducing the number of incidents with these products, which are used safely by millions of consumers every day.”
If the contents get in your child’s eye you should: rinse the eye with cool water for 20 minutes, then take the child to the emergency room or an ophthalmologist immediately.
Haring states, “The longer that these chemicals stay in the eye, the more likely they are to cause permanent damage to vision and the eye itself.”