A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University confirmed that laundry detergent pods put children at risk of suffering chemical ocular burns.
Laundry detergent pods —small, dissolvable pouches that are good for a single wash cycle— are the factor behind an “increase in associated injuries among children,” reads the study published in JAMA Ophthalmology. Besides chemical burns, these injuries include choking and poisoning. Researchers suggest that the hazard comes from the pod’s appearance, which makes them look like candy.
Laundry detergent pods look tasty and fun to children
According to the study, chemical ocular burns are a significant cause of morbidity and can cause more complicated symptoms throughout a patient’s life. Because of the high incidence of injuries caused by laundry pods, researchers asked the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for reports concerning eye injuries, including chemical burns and conjunctivitis in children aged 3 to 4 years old, equivalent to preschool toddlers. Then, the team looked at the events that were related to a laundry detergent pod; then they drew comparison schemes to differentiate each case by age, sex, race, setting, circumstances, and the amount of laundry detergent that was implicated in the event.
The data shows that, between January of 2010 and December of 2015, there were 1,201 cases of chemical burn caused by laundry detergent pods in the United States as registered by NEISS. Concernedly, the number of events increased with each passing year, going from 12 in 2012 to 480 in 2015. All reported patients were subjected to emergency treatment, and 46.3 percent of them were white.
“We’d done another study a few months ago that showed that small children are at highest risk for all types of chemical ocular burns, and that kind of flew in the face of conventional wisdom. They always thought that working-age men were the highest risk group: working in factories, splashing chemical in their eyes,” stated lead researcher Dr. R. Sterling Haring.
Apparently, the injuries were more frequent when children handled the pods and squirted the contents on their eyes, or when the liquid leaked into their hands before touching their faces.
The problem is that laundry detergent pods have a more corrosive degree of chemicals when compared to regular liquid soap. Laundry pods have a “higher concentration of surfactants, chemicals responsible for stain removal,” according to Eric J. Moorhead, chairman of Good Chemistry LLC, as he stated to ABC News.
Dr. Haring assured that these detergents are among the worst chemicals that can come in contact with the human eye, being the causal of alkaline burns, penetrating deeper and being more dangerous to the eye overall.
The reason is that the cornea does not have its own blood vessels, which renders it unable to heal completely after it has been burned, especially when it comes to a chemical burn.
Source: JAMA Network