Between 2012 and 2015, more than 1,200 3- and 4-year-olds in the United States had chemical burns to the eye from laundry detergent packets. In 2012 there were 12 injuries reported. In 2015, there were 480 eye injuries to children from laundry packets. That’s a more than 30-fold increase in these injuries among kids during that time. A study published in JAMA Ophthalmology in March detailed the statistics.
The American Academy of Ophthalmology and the American Medical Association have teamed up to help. The Academy and the AMA are asking the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the American Association of Poison Control Centers to review the current manufacturer standards for laundry packets to see whether they need to be updated. The current standards are voluntary, not mandatory.
Laundry packets or laundry pods are often brightly colored, and kids may mistake them for toys or candy. If a laundry packet is popped, the detergent can severely burn the cornea, eyelids and skin around the eyes. Chemical burns to the eyes can result in lifelong decreased vision or total blindness. If children swallow laundry packets, the poisoning can be fatal.
If you use laundry pods, make sure you know the risks. Store them safely and keep them out of the hands of children.
In 2015, Consumer Reports pulled its product recommendation for laundry packets because of injuries to children. And in 2016, toddlers at home were found to be more at risk of chemical burns than working adults.