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Local doctors gain national attention with study of laundry pods

Aug 21, 2015 01:26PM ● By MED Magazine

What makes laundry detergents pods, those convenient all-in-one detergent delivery systems, more poisonous than conventional liquid or powdered detergent in some cases? It’s a question point control experts in Iowa are working to answer.

 Sioux City’s Edward Bottei, MD, Medical Director/Toxicologist, and Kim Zellmer, PharmD, of the Iowa Poison Control Center were recently featured in a Wall Street Journal article entitled “Dangers Behind Laundry Pods Stump Poison-Control Experts”.  The two are trying to determine why some children who bite into detergent packets suffer severe injuries while others have only minor problems.

 Since the introduction of concentrated detergent packets in the U.S. in 2012, young children who accidentally burst packets have been hospitalized at a rate of about one a day. While at least seven people have died after ingesting their contents, thousands of children have also experienced only minor symptoms.

Drs. Bottei and Zellmer studied the physical properties of laundry packets to see if they played a role in the severity of the accidents involving children. In the study, Drs. Bottei and Zellmer found that packets containing thicker detergent required more force to burst. The brands of laundry packets with thinner liquids could make the detergent more likely to get into a child’s airways. Preliminary findings are documented in a research paper that is under review.

American manufactures are being encouraged to implement further safety measures. These include coating their laundry packets in a foul-tasting substance to deter children from biting into them, making containers opaque and harder to open, and enlarging warning labels.