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Detergent Dangers - Single-Use Capsules Look Like Candy to Kids

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Detergent Dangers - Single-Use Capsules Look Like Candy to Kids

Concentrated liquid dishwasher or laundry detergent capsules that are brightly coloured have been causing serious injury to small children who mistake them for candy.

If you have young children, beware of dishwasher and washing machine liquid detergent capsules that look like candy. There is rising concern among health care professionals—particularly those who work with pediatric emergencies—that the colourful packaging of these concentrated detergents pose a real threat to young children.

Reporting in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, physicians at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, Scotland have raised the alarm about the rising rates of injury to young children who have ingested these colourful, squishy gel packs.

Eye injuries

Dr. Lyndsay Fraser was quoted by BBC News as saying, ““We have known for some time about the risk of eye injuries from kids squeezing these liquitabs until they burst.

“What we have seen more recently is that children are biting into the tablets, presumably because they think they are sweets as they have the same soft texture and bright colouring.”

Throat burns and breathing problems

“The alkaline chemicals in the liquitab cause an immediate chemical burn, causing breathing problems as the airway starts to swell rapidly.”

Health Canada warning

Health Canada is also aware of the dangers of liquid detergent packets. Their advisory, issued in mid-July, warns parents and caregivers about the dangers of “miniature detergent packs.”

What they say

They say that “these brightly coloured packets with their squishy texture are attractive to children.” They also warn that the detergent packs should be stored in a locked cabinet/drawer out of the reach of children.

What they don't say

What they don’t say, though, is why manufacturers are permitted to sell potentially dangerous products that look like candy with no safety packaging to keep children out. Health Canada says they are monitoring incident reports and reviewing compliance with applicable regulations.

What you can do

  • If you haven’t already done so, lock up any potentially hazardous cleaning products away from children.
  • If you have a concern about these potentially dangerous products, you can reach Health Canada at 603-957-2983.
  • Use natural cleaning products wherever possible.
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