Laundry Pod Hazards
March 8, 2018
It probably comes as no surprise that laundry pods – which are filled with liquid laundry detergent – are extremely hazardous when ingested – but the surprising news may be that accidental ingestion occurs most commonly in older, cognitively impaired individuals, such as people with dementia. Children of senior citizens and caregivers (as well as parents of infants and toddlers) should be cautious, but manufacturers should also be taking steps market and label the products in a way that makes them less easy to confuse with other items for impaired (or young) individuals.
Dementia is typically categorized as a decline in mental ability, which is caused by brain disease or injury. People with dementia often exhibit symptoms of memory disorder, impaired reasoning and personality changes. The most common kind of dementia is Alzheimer’s, though there are other types as well. People with dementia can require lots of support and care, especially if they struggle with everyday life and routine activities.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that six adults with dementia died after ingesting liquid laundry packets between 2012 and 2017, in addition to two children who were under 6-years-old. According to the daughter of an 87-year-old woman with dementia, her mother was prone to confusing small objects with candy. It’s not uncommon for laundry pods to be colorfully labeled and approximately the same size as a piece of candy or some other kind of food. Sadly, the elderly woman with dementia ingested two laundry pods and by the time her loved ones found her, it was too late. She was rushed to a local hospital but died from her injuries two days later.
According to the CPSC’s press secretary, people can open laundry pods and access the potent liquid inside pretty quickly. All it takes to dissolve the packaging around the detergent and release the liquid inside is some saliva, water or using wet hands. Consumer Reports (CR) has been asking laundry pod manufacturers to label their products more safely since 2012 – and also recommends that parents and caregivers keep them out of homes with children under 6-years-old present. The same goes for adult children and caregivers of individuals with dementia: it’s a good idea to consider not having laundry pods present – or at a minimum, ensuring they are stored in contained and secure areas.
CR found that six out of the eight deaths reported to the CPSC were the result of the accidental ingestion of tide pods manufactured by Procter & Gamble. Proctor & Gamble sells more laundry packets than any other manufacturers, but even after getting news of consumer deaths the company still hasn’t altered the style or labeling of any of its products on the market.
People with dementia are prone to confusing non-food items with food items – and when the disease progresses they can become even more likely to put non-food items into their mouths. These complications put dementia patients at particularly high risk for accidental ingestion of dangerous and poisonous products – especially those labeled in a way that makes them even easier to mistake for something else, like candy.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) say that laundry pods are much more dangerous than conventional laundry detergent, because they are packaged in highly concentrated doses. The AAPCC also received nearly 40,000 reports of exposure to liquid detergent between 2012 and 2015. Children 6-years-old or under made up 91% of the reports (the AAPCC doesn’t include information on adults with dementia, however).
These statistics make it clear that both children under 6-years-old and adults with dementia are at a greater risk for accidental poisoning and death related to the ingestion of laundry detergent pods. Stories about the “Tide Pod” challenge have been all across the news lately. There have been numerous stories (as well as videos) detailing the strange Internet craze, which includes teens eating laundry packets. Even though parents of adolescents should have a conversation with their kid(s), children or caregivers for individuals with dementia as well as parents or caregivers of kids under 6-years-old need to remain vigilant about this health threat, especially if manufacturers refuse to take additional safety precautions to better protect consumers.
If you decide to have liquid laundry pods in your home with a child or individual with dementia present, please take some extra precautionary measures to limit the chance for accidental injuries or death. Some helpful safety tips include:
- Store laundry pods up high and out of sight – preferably in a locked cabinet;
- Read warning labels to be prepared on what steps to take in case an emergency happens;
- If laundry pods are stored in a laundry room, close and lock the door if possible;
- Do not take pods out of original container until ready to use them, and:
- If you suspect that someone has ingested any of the contents, call 9-1-1 or the Poison Help Line at 1-800-222-2222 immediately
If your loved one with dementia was exposed to laundry packets in a care facility and experienced injuries as a result or you have questions or concerns about a child who accidentally ingested a laundry packet and became ill, please contact a lawyer at our firm directly.
Philadelphia Products Liability Lawyers at Galfand Berger, LLP Represent Individuals Injured by Dangerous Products
If a defective product injured you or someone you know, please contact the Philadelphia product liability lawyers at Galfand Berger. With offices located in Philadelphia, Bethlehem, Lancaster, and Reading, we serve clients throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. To schedule a consultation, call us at 800-222-8792 or complete our online contact form.