Poison centers warn about laundry detergent 'pods'




Posted on May 22, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 22 at 6:50 PM

Cars are okay, but cabinets are really cool to 15-month-old Colin Harrell.

"He loves everything small," said his mom, Jamie Harrell. "And — of course — everything goes right into his mouth."

That's why Harrell is particularly careful about what's behind those doors.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers is giving parents a new cause for concern: Convenient single-dose laundry "pods." They're colorful, bite-sized, and potentially lethal.

Texas poison control centers report 57 emergency calls linked to the detergent pods... 16 of them from North Texas.

"These pods are clearly much more dangerous than a standard laundry detergent," said Parkland Memorial Hospital toxicologist Dr. Kurt Kleinschmidt.

In addition to rapid nausea and vomiting, some children who ingest the concentrated detergent have become extremely tired — almost like they're sedated.

"Some of these kids have required intubation where they put a tube down, helping these kids breathe for a period of time until they get over the episode," Dr. Kleinschmidt said.

The American Association of Poison Control Centers reports several such episodes, including one involving a 17-month-old who bit into a packet and rapidly developed drowsiness. The child vomited, breathed the product into the lungs, and had to be put on a ventilator.

Experts aren't sure yet what's in the products that makes some children dangerously sick, but it's another solid reason why Jamie Harrell keeps her detergent and chemicals up high — out of her toddler's curious reach, and poison experts endorse Harrell's caution.

Most kids who ingest typical laundry detergent will get only mildly ill, and recover without problems.

Experts say children exposed to a single-dose laundry detergent packet should call poison control immediately. Here's the number for the Texas Poison Center Network; post it prominently near your home phone and add it to your cell phone contacts: 800-222-1222.

You can also download the free PoisonHelp app for iPhone and Android smartphones.

E-mail jstjames@wfaa.com