This study analyzes and compares pediatric exposures to packet and nonpacket forms of laundry and dishwasher detergents in the United States.
Data from the National Poison Data System involving exposures to laundry and dishwasher detergents among children younger than 6 years old from 2013 through 2014 were analyzed.
There were 62 254 children younger than 6 years old exposed to laundry and dishwasher detergents from 2013 to 2014. The number of exposures to detergent increased over the study period, but the increase was greatest for laundry detergent packets (17.0%) and dishwasher detergent packets (14.0%). Eighty-five percent of children were exposed through ingestion. The odds of clinical effects (3.9–8.2), hospitalization (4.8–23.5), intubation (6.9–71.3), and serious medical outcomes (8.4–22.6) were significantly higher for laundry detergent packet exposures than for other types of detergent. There were 117 children who required intubation, and 104 of these were exposed to laundry detergent packets. There were 2 deaths, and both were associated with laundry detergent packets.
This national study demonstrates that pediatric laundry detergent packet exposures are more severe than laundry detergent nonpacket and dishwasher detergent (packet and nonpacket) exposures. Pediatric exposures to laundry detergent packets increased by 17% during the study period nationally and should be closely monitored to assess the effectiveness of the newly adopted voluntary safety standard; this standard should be strengthened if the number of exposures does not demonstrate a substantial decrease.