HEALTH ALERT: Laundry detergent pods pose poison risk to kids - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

HEALTH ALERT: Laundry detergent pods pose poison risk to kids

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KHQ.com - Every single hour in the United States, a child swallows, inhales or is otherwise exposed to the toxic chemicals inside laundry detergent pods.

According to new research released Monday by Nationwide Children's Hospital, that's more than 17,000 children since the pods hit store shelves.

"Laundry detergent pods are very concentrated and have strong chemicals in them," Dr. Gary Smith, who lead the research, said. 

"Sometimes the chemicals get into the eyes. Sometimes they're swallowed, and if they're swallowed, they can cause severe burns to the esophagus and the stomach."

Since the product hit the market in 2012, more than 750 children have been hospitalized after coming into contact with the pods. One child, a baby in Florida, died after putting one in his mouth.  

According to data from the National Poison Center, the pods sent an average of one child a day to hospitals across the country in 2012 and 2013.

Manufacturers say they're concerned about the problem and are making changes -- like improving warning labels, making the pods look less attractive to young children, and switching from clear to opaque packaging.

In a statement, the American Cleaning Institute wrote that manufacturers "remain committed to reducing the number of children involved in accidents with these products, which are used safely by millions of consumers."

But many users remain unaware of the dangers. Just last week the cleaning industry released a survey that found a majority of consumers store the detergent pods well within reach of curious young children. 

Traditional liquid detergent is harder to open and heavier to lift compared to the lighter pods, which look similar to candy.

The research from Nationwide Children's Hospital found most of the exposures were to toddlers between the ages of one and two.

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