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Ditch the Detergent Pods

Do you use detergent pods? If so, you may want to wash them out of your laundry process. Kids have been mistaking them for candy, causing many to ingest them or play with them with serious results, according to a new report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Not familiar with pods? Also called packs or pacs, pods are small, liquid detergent-filled, single-use packaging. You can find pods on grocery shelves branded as Tide Pods, All Mighty Pacs, and Purex Triple Action UltraPacks, among others. They require no measuring. Users simply grab a pack or pod and toss it in the laundry and, once its outer cover dissolves when immersed in water, detergent is released. You’re not using too much or too little, so it saves time, and it’s also less messy. Sounds great, right? Maybe not…

The CDC in conjunction with the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) in May began tracking reported exposures to laundry detergent from pods. From the CDC’s report:

“During May 17–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. Age was recorded for 481 exposures, of which 454 (94%) exposures involved children aged ≤5 years.”

These are huge numbers when you think about how little the actual pod market is.

The problems related to the pod exposure as compared to regular detergent include “gastrointestinal and respiratory adverse health effects and mental status changes compared with those with non-pod laundry detergent exposures.” What’s so alluring about pods anyway? According to the CDC the pods are usually colorful and small — sort of like candy — so kids may play with them or eat them. The New York Times has an awesome photo of a pod as well as a pretty detailed description of the problem. (And yes, I do think the pod that they photographed looks like candy.)

So what should you do if you’re a pod fan? If you can, you should switch to a different non-pod detergent, especially if it’s one of the 22 products that the Environmental Working Group rated an A in its most recent Guide to Healthy Cleaning. After all, All Mighty Pacs and Purex Triple Action UltraPacks scored a big, fat F in the EWG’s guide, while the Tide Pac scored a C.

If you can’t switch to a pod-free detergent or don’t want to? Please keep pod products locked up far away from children, and be vigilant about talking to kids about the dangers of putting things in their mouth. This little bit of prevention may keep you out of the emergency room.

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