The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has published a study in the October 19, 2012, edition of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report focusing on the alleged health risks of laundry detergent pods. According to CDC, which gathered data between May 17 and June 17, 2012, “poison centers reported 1,008 laundry detergent exposures to the National Poison Data System (NPDS), of which 485 (48%) exposures involved laundry detergent pods.” But compared with non-pod exposures, the exposures involving detergent pods were more often unintentional and more likely to entail ingestion, a fact highlighted by CDC in its advice to caregivers and healthcare providers.

“Among children aged ≤5 years, a significantly greater proportion of those exposed to laundry detergent from pods had gastrointestinal and respiratory adverse health effects and mental status changes compared with those with non-pod laundry detergent exposures,” states CDC’s summary of the data. “Parents and caregivers should keep laundry detergent pods, as well as other household cleaning products, out of reach and out of sight of children. Health-care providers should be aware that exposure to laundry detergent from pods might be associated with adverse health effects more often than exposure to non-pod laundry detergents.”

Meanwhile, the Consumers Union (CU) has reportedly joined U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) in calling on the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to further regulate laundry detergent pods in light of these statistics. More information about the senator’s initiative appears in the September 13, 2012, issue of this Report. After Schumer wrote a letter about the issue to CPSC Chair Inez Tenenbaum, the consumer group released its own missive urging detergent-pod manufacturers and CPSC to “step up efforts” to prevent accidental exposures. “The small size of these packets makes them accessible to children, and the colors and textures of certain products could be attracting children in ways that conventional detergents do not,” CU said of the pods. “We urge [CPSC] to investigate this matter quickly and consider regulations to require adequate child-safe packaging, as well as prominent warning labels, for single-use detergent packs.”