Can Children Tell the Difference Between Detergent Pods and Candy?

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Consumer advocates have been warning about laundry detergent pods for years. Too many of the multi-colored gel pods have ended up in the mouths and on the skin of unsuspecting children. And now, a study published this morning in Pediatrics confirms that more than 17,000 children under the age of 6 have reached for a pod, burst them open and exposed their skin, eyes and mouths to the chemicals.

“Serious medical consequences have been documented, including respiratory distress, marked lethargy and depression of consciousness,” wrote the team of researchers from the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, 

The pods are extremely popular in the marketplace, allowing consumers to pop one of the brightly colored packets of detergent enclosed in a water-soluble membrane into the wash. 

"But something about these pods makes them highly toxic," said Dr. Gary Smith, one of the study's authors. "They pose a very serious poisoning threat to kids. Young children are curious, and they have no concept of danger. They explore their environment by putting things in their mouth, and they see something that's colorful and can easily mistake it for candy or juice."