Something that you may use every day carries a tremendous risk of hurting children, a new study is warning.
Toddlers in your household may be at risk of a serious injury, and the source of that risk is something you’d never expect: laundry detergent packets. Scientists found in a recent research paper that from 2012 to 2015, the number of chemical burns to the eyes of children rose more than 30 times, a total of 1,200 cases in 3 and 4 years olds over that time period.
The single-dose detergent packs have been very popular since they entered the mass market in 2012. The packets have a detergent mixture that is wrapped in a film that is soluble in water. This detergent is actually not the same as liquid detergent, as it has a higher concentration of chemicals, according to a statement from JAMA Network Journals.
“Each pod consists of a detergent mixture wrapped in a water-soluble film, made up of a proprietary polyvinyl alcohol polymer,” Eric J. Moorhead, president of consulting firm Good Chemistry LLC, in a CNN report. “The liquid detergent in the pods is not the same as regular liquid detergent. It has a higher concentration of surfactants, chemicals that are responsible for stain removal. At high concentrations, these ordinarily safe ingredients can cause irritation, especially in sensitive areas like the eyes.”
“These data suggest that the role of laundry detergent pods in eye injuries among preschool-aged children is growing. As with most injuries in this age group, these burns occurred almost exclusively in the home. In addition to proper storage and use of these devices, prevention strategies might include redesigning packaging to reduce the attractiveness of these products to young children and improving their strength and durability,” the authors write.