Study: Child Eye Chemical Burns Increase due to Laundry Detergent Packets

harmful chemical warning label irritating to skin and eyes

According to FOX43, a recent study shows that an increase of chemical burns to the eyes of children has risen drastically due to the advent of the laundry detergent packet.

Contents of Detergent Pods Can Cause Long-Term Vision Problems

A study published in the JAMA Ophthalmology medical journal says the number of chemical burns to the eyes of children rose more than 30 times between 2012 and 2015. These single-use laundry detergent pods became popular in 2012. The pods are not made of the same detergents as regular liquid detergent. Liquid inside the pods, which are sealed by a water-soluble film, are more concentrated and powerful than their normal liquid counterparts. Because of the high concentration, the liquids pose a serious threat to sensitive areas, especially eyes.

According to FOX43, among kids between 3 and 4 years old, the number of eye burns caused by laundry detergent pods increased from 12 incidents to 480 incidents between 2012 and 2015. Eye burns from laundry detergent pods jumped from less than 1 percent of all eye burns to 26 percent of all burns.

Children are apt to mistake the laundry detergent packets as toys or candy due to their bright colors and small shape. Researchers say the chemicals inside the pods are among the worst that the eye could be exposed to — burning deeper, faster, and more caustically than even acid.

These kinds of eye injuries can potentially cause long-term vision impairment, according to the study. FOX43 reports that the study concluded that these laundry detergent packets need to be stored more properly by parents and manufacturers should consider redesigning safer products or packaging.

A researcher involved in the study said the risks posed by detergent pods go beyond eye injuries, according to FOX43. Children have been hospitalized with serious injuries in the past from swallowing the packets or consuming the liquid inside.

What Should Parents Do to Keep Their Children Safe?

Most children who suffer a chemical burn to their eyes will recover, but the burns are very painful and may require extensive ophthalmologic treatment.

Here’s how to keep your child safe from laundry detergent pods:

  • Keep pods in a high cabinet out of the reach of children
  • If your child gets liquid from a pod in his or her eyes, immediately irrigate the eye(s) with cool tap water for 20 minutes
  • Take your child to the emergency department

Researchers say it is important to irrigate the eyes as soon as possible after the accident occurs. How quickly the detergent is rinsed from the eyes can be the deciding factor of long-term vision impairment.

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