During its first six years on the market, Tide’s single-use detergent pods led to nearly 73,000 poison control center calls. Most cases involved children under age 6 mistaking the laundry packets for candy. Today, many American children are still being poisoned.
The annual rate of such calls more than doubled between 2012 and 2015 until global standards development organization ASTM International demanded plain, opaque packaging, according to new research published this year in the journal Pediatrics.
Then, around the time the bizarre #TidePodChallenge trend of popping small laundry detergent pacs and posting videos chewing and gagging on the oozing product online went berserk between 2015 to 2017, poison control centers began noticing a surge in cases of older kids and adults swallowing the pods.
During the same time period, the annual call rate dropped 18% among children under age 6.
“The current voluntary standard, public awareness campaigns, and product and packaging changes to-date are good first steps, but the numbers are still unacceptably high,” senior study author Gary Smith, director of the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, told Reuters. “We can do better.”
If someone swallows a small amount of the concentrated detergent in the pods, it could result in diarrhea and vomiting. And it can even creep into the lungs and burn the respiratory tract, making it incredibly difficult to breathe, Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center told USA Today last year.
The D.C.-based not-for-profit National Capital Poison Center reported that biting into a pod can cause “serious injury or even death.” Rubbing the product into the eyes can make the eyes burn, too.
The pods also pose lethal risks for adults with dementia.
At least six adults suffering from cognitive impairment, along with two children, have died as a result of ingesting the pods, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A 2016 report from the Georgia Poison Center showed the number of children getting sick from detergent pods tripled over the previous four years.
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