A new study published yesterday at the website for the journal Archives of Disease in Childhood says that poisonings from those new "liquitab" liquid detergent packs are rising. In this study, which was done in Scotland, only 5 kids were taken to emergency rooms over an 18 month period of time but the problem is certainly far worse than those numbers suggest. Back in May the American Association of Poison Control Centers issued its own warning about liquid detergent packs, begging people to keep the things out of the reach of children.
While I'm not aware of any child actually dying after consuming one of these detergent packs several have come close. In the AAPCC's statement, for example, that group told of several children who bit into (and in some cases, swallowed) liquid detergent capsules and had to be intubated in the emergency room.
“The rapid onset of significant symptoms is pretty scary,” said Dr. Michael Beuhler in the CCPSS's statement. And the authors of the new Scottish study agree. In an interview with MedPageToday Dr. Lyndsay Fraser explained exactly what goes on when a child swallows the stuff inside one of those tabs--"Alkaline substances exert a potent solvent action on tissue lipoproteins, producing liquefaction necrosis with intense inflammation and saponification." In other words, the stuff that makes those detergents so good at breaking down grease is, essentially, eating away at the child's esophagus and other organs.
Child safety advocates say that these detergent packs, which are often brightly colored and may even be scented, are way too tempting for kids. They would like--at the very least--to see the things sold in child-proof packaging. So far, the major manufacturers of these things have been content to stick "Keep Out Of The Reach Of Children" warnings on the containers although in June the American Cleaning Institute, which is a trade group representing the companies that sell products like detergent packs, did issue another warning of its own, urging parents to keep the packs out of the reach of children.