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The Dangers to Children Posed by Laundry Detergent Pods

Apr 10, 2015 - Personal Injury, Tuscaloosa by

Using less water and energy than traditional machines, high energy (HE) washers offer many advantages, particularly to families whose children create extra loads. However, the new technology behind these washing machines also requires families to replace their old laundry soap with HE detergent. Although the detergent is offered in traditional containers, many manufacturers also supply it in single-load pods that make them convenient — and potentially dangerous to children.

Our Tuscaloosa accident attorneys support new washing machine designs that preserve water. However, parents who switch to low-sud, highly-concentrated detergent pods need to understand the risks. It takes only minor changes to one’s routine to help ensure the pods do not result in a trip to the emergency room.

Why Detergent Pods are Riskier than Standard Detergents

Traditionally, a box of laundry powder or a bottle of liquid posed a relatively low safety risk to children for three main reasons:

  • The containers are not particularly attractive to children.
  • Small children (and even adults) cannot easily lift the heavy boxes and bottles.
  • Even with some additives for stain removal and brightening, the formulas are not highly toxic if ingested.

Detergent pods, on the other hand, are formulated specifically for use with low-water machines. In fact, new machine owners should not use the older detergents. In addition to keeping the suds level low, their contents are highly concentrated and more toxic. The pods themselves are a double-edged sword: they protect the skin from direct-contact with the detergent, but they look like playthings or snacks to children.

Recent Statics Show Parents Need to Take Heed

Even though the industry has made product safety improvements, the American Association of Poison Control Centers states that poison centers received reports of 10,395 product exposures in 2013. An additional 9,935 exposures to children age 5 and younger occurred from January 1 to October 31, 2014. Even though exposure does not always translate to serious injuries, some children who ingested the product suffered a variety of reactions, including breathing problems serious enough to require a ventilator.

Many people argue that pod manufacturers need to take more action to make their products safe. They often argue that the bright colors of the pods make them look like toys or candy and some believe that warning labels need to be more prominent. Many product liability lawyers agree that manufacturers can be held liable for injuries to children based on grounds of product design and failure to warn adequately.

How to Protect Children

Parents who use detergent pods can help ensure their children’s safety by taking the following simple measures:

  • Keep detergent pods — and all chemicals — on high shelves or locked in cabinets where children cannot see or reach them.
  • Educate older children about the pods so they know they are not toys and they immediately recognize them as dangerous.
  • Make sure babysitters and housekeepers know about the risks.

Keep in mind that the Alabama contributory negligence laws often prohibit injury victims from pursuing compensation if they share any degree of liability for an accident. Product manufacturers often cite parental negligence as the reason for their children’s injuries. However, our Tuscaloosa product liability attorneys have the experience needed to help parents pursue justice in these often-complex personal injury cases.

Additional Resources:

Hundreds of Kids Harmed by Detergent ‘Pods,’ Study Finds, by Lindsey Tanner, AP Medical Writer, ABC News, November 10, 2014

Health Hazards Associated with Laundry Detergent Pods — United States, May–June 2012, October 19, 2012, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Other Blog Topics:

Geshke v. Crocs, Inc. – Product Liability Case Thwarted for Lack of Duty to Warn, Tuscaloosa Dangerous Products/Liability Blog

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