With concern over laundry detergent pod poisonings continuing to rise, New York lawmakers have introduced a bill to help curb the problem. The single-load pods have become the subject of intense legislative debate and numerous lawsuits in recent years. Now, New York is looking for a way to combat the danger, particularly for young children and mentally disabled adults.
The legislation, which will not be debated until 2016, was introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (Dem-Queens). The bill would require child-resistant packaging for all laundry pod products sold in the state. It would also mandate changes to colors and designs of the pods to make them less attractive to children. The pods would also need to be individually wrapped, in addition to their child-proof packaging.
Similar federal legislation shelved
A similar piece of legislation was filed at the federal level earlier this year. However, the U.S. House of Representatives put the Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act on the back burner after new standards for the industry were proposed. Those standards included placing the pods in containers difficult for children to open and adding a foul-tasting substance to the outside of the pod to prevent children from putting them in their mouths. The new standards are not legally-binding and depend on the cooperation of pod manufacturers to carry them out.
Makers of the laundry detergent pods, including Proctor & Gamble, agreed to the standards in an effort to reduce the number of accidental poisonings. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) estimates that more than 35,000 children age five or younger have had accidents involving the laundry pods since they were first introduced in 2012.
A number of those children died, while others spent time in the hospital with symptoms like repeated vomiting, breathing issues and nervous system depression.
A health hazard for young children
In 2015 alone, poison centers across the country received 11,552 reports of young children being exposed to the concentrated versions of laundry detergent. Those exposures include children who ingested the substance, as well as those that inhaled it or got it on their skin or in their eyes. This number was comparable to the figures posted in 2014, but show a marked increase in problems related to the pods since 2012.
According to a report in the Washington Post earlier this year, Consumer Reports has removed pods from their list of recommended laundry products. The non-profit group is also urging parents with children under the age of six to refrain from purchasing these products. In its recommendation, Consumer Reports states, “The product is often a convenient way to do laundry – and it’s a serious health hazard for young children.”
Big business in laundry detergent pods
Despite warnings from Consumer Reports and others, laundry detergent pods have become big business for their manufacturers. Market research by Information Resources, Inc., (IRI) shows that sales of these products grew by 30 percent in the first three months of 2015. That translated to $873.5 million in sales during that time. Laundry detergent pods make up around 12 percent of all laundry detergent sales in the U.S.
Families whose children were injured by the pods are beginning to file lawsuits against manufacturers, alleging the companies did not go far enough in their concerns about the safety of the products or warning consumers about associated risks.
Edelman, Krasin & Jaye offers skilled legal advice for anyone who has been harmed by a dangerous household product. Call 1-800-469-7429 to schedule a free case review with a New York personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.