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Cases of Poisoning Among Children on the Rise Due to Advent of Single-Wash Detergent Packages

Although manufacturers likely don’t intend to produce a product that poses a threat to small children, MSNBC reports that cases of detergent poisoning among children under age 2 are on the rise after the advent of single-wash packets of laundry detergent that toddlers mistake for candy.

Because these new single-use packages are colorful and tempting to children, they pose a very serious hazard. Young children are often curious and explore new objects with their mouths; the single-wash packets are designed to melt quickly in the washing machine, and because the outer-casing holding the detergent dissolves easily, it will disperse in saliva, delivering the concentrated laundry detergent directly into the child’s mouth.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), the statistics for these types of accidents are alarming: in the United States alone, nearly 2,200 children age 5 and under either swallowed or got the detergent from laundry packets into their eyes between Jan. 1 and July 31 of this year.

The chemicals in the laundry detergents are alkaline, and may cause damage to internal soft tissues when swallowed. Although, typically, swallowing laundry detergent causes mild stomach upset or even no symptoms at all, the new laundry packets seem to be more potent because they contain concentrated chemicals, said MSNBC.

In these more-recent cases, children suffered serious chemical burns to the esophagus, and, in many cases, suffered airway swelling serious enough that they required implementation of a breathing tube. Children who’ve swallowed the liquid in the pods may also vomit, wheeze or gasp for air, and some children have needed to be put onto a ventilator, reported the AAPCC.

The dangers associated with these products may be sufficient to trigger Chicago products liability lawsuits; Under Illinois law, there are three main types of claims:
1. A manufacturing defect, which generally occurs when an otherwise safe product is assembled carelessly;

2. A design defect, which occurs when, no matter how well the product is put together, its intent or layout is inherently dangerous;

3. A failure to warn, which can occur when a product markets a product that they know to be potentially hazardous, and fails to warn consumers of the latent danger.

These innovative products which are intended to be attractive and to catch our eyes as consumers also appeal to children. To protect children, manufacturers might consider redesign packaging with enhanced child safety caps, implementing packaging with fewer bright-colors, or marking packages with warnings to parents about the potential harm the product may have on children. Additionally, parents should keep laundry detergents out of reach of kids.

If the detergent manufacturers are held responsible for having been fully or partially responsible for the harm to children due to the updated packaging, they may be made to pay compensatory damages, which attempt to put an injured person back in the position he or she was in before being injured, such as compensation for medical and hospital expenses, and the loss of a normal life following the injury. Additionally, in some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded; punitive damages are intended to punish wrongdoers and send a message to the responsible corporation and other companies to be more careful in the future.

If you have been harmed by a hazardous, or faulty product, contact an attorney to be advised of your rights under the law. You may be entitled to compensation for your suffering.