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Liquid laundry packets carry big risk, despite safety rules

A hand holding a liquid laundry packet.

June 28, 2019 —A safety standard meant to reduce poisonings from liquid laundry detergent packets hasn't helped enough, a new study says.

The study tracked calls to U.S. poison control centers. From 2012 to 2017, the centers received almost 73,000 calls related to liquid laundry packets.

Calls for kids younger than 6 years old went down after the safety standard was introduced in 2015. But calls for older kids and adults went up.

Eight people died from eating laundry packets. Two of the deaths were kids under the age of 2. The other six deaths were among adults 43 and older. These adults had a history of dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or developmental disability.

The study appeared in Pediatrics.

Why isn't the safety standard helping more?

The 2015 voluntary safety standard was meant to help protect kids. But researchers found that exposure to laundry packets in kids under 6 only declined by 18%.

They said one problem is that the new rules don't require containers to conform to the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970. This act has been shown to help prevent kids' access to toxic products.

Keep your family safe

Liquid laundry packets are more toxic than other liquid or powder detergents.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, detergent in the packets is highly concentrated. Biting a packet can cause it to burst. This can shoot detergent into the mouth, throat or eyes.

Researchers said that regular laundry detergent is a safer option for homes where young kids or at-risk adults live.

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