Have you noticed how liquid laundry detergent capsules look like lollies or squishy toys?
The bad news is that more than 85 calls have been made to Australian poison hotlines in the past 18 months relating to accidents involving children and exposure to laundry capsules. The good news is something is being done to improve the safety and labelling of these products.
Laundry capsules contain pre-measured, concentrated liquid detergent within a water-soluble wrapping. This wrapping rapidly dissolves when in contact with moisture and exposure to the chemical content, the detergent, can occur in less than 10 seconds.
You can imagine what this means for youngsters who mistake the pods for confectionery or toys. Further adding to their confusion, some laundry capsules come packaged in a transparent container which resembles a lunchbox. The laundry capsules can easily burst and are small enough to fit in a child’s hand or mouth.
Kids who have either ingested these laundry capsules or have been exposed to them have suffered symptoms including severe skin irritations, coughing, drowsiness, vomiting and even temporary blindness.
In terms of injury prevention, nothing works better than being vigilant in keeping household cleaning products away from children. However, industry also has a role to play in making their products safer.
On this front, the ACCC has been working closely with Accord Australasia, the relevant industry association, to improve the safety and packaging of these products. Expected changes include the redesign of the product and outer packaging so it features consistent safety information and prominent warning labels.
If your child has been exposed to household chemicals, such as laundry detergent products, immediately contact the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26.
As well as seeking medical advice, move quickly to rinse as much of the detergent as possible from their mouth and flush their eyes with water for at least 15 minutes.
It pays to keep laundry products out of sight and out reach of young children, preferably in cupboards or lockable storage compartments. As a precaution, you should also ensure your hands are dry before you use laundry capsules, and wash and dry your hands thoroughly after use.