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Laundry detergent pods and children don’t mix: BC Drug and Poison Information Centre offers tips for parents following increase in calls

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​Vancouver – Laundry detergent pods are an important reason for calls involving children to the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre (BC DPIC), a program of the BC Centre for Disease Control. 

BC DPIC reports an increase in exposures to laundry detergent pods since 2012, resulting in 59 calls to BC DPIC in 2012, 128 calls in 2013, 137 calls in 2014 and 152 calls in 2015, for a total of 467 calls and 150 visits to the emergency room between 2012 and 2015. Most of these calls involved children under the age of six.

Exposure to laundry detergent pods require more emergency room visits compared to exposure to regular liquid or powder laundry detergent, which may be due to higher concentrations of detergents found in the pods. 

“Parents may see these pods as easy and convenient to use, but young children can confuse them with toys or candy,” said Dr. Roy Purssell, medical lead of BC DPIC. “The big risk is if a child bites into a laundry pod and it sprays out detergent, it can cause severe swelling in the back of the throat and interfere with a child’s breathing.”

Approximately one in thirty cases where children are exposed to these products is serious enough for the child to be sent to hospital.  

Parents can help prevent accidental exposure to these products and other dangerous chemicals by keeping cleaning products stored safely and out of reach of children. It is also important to have the poison control centre telephone number handy in the event of an accident. Prevention and quick thinking can make a difference in ensuring a safe recovery when someone is exposed to a harmful chemical or medicinal substance.

Tips to prevent accidental exposure

  • Store chemicals and medicines in their original labelled containers; 
  • Always read the label before using a chemical or a medicine; 
  • Return medicines and chemicals to their safe place after using; 
  • Keep medicines in child-resistant containers. Blister packs and weekly dosettes are not child-resistant; 
  • Regularly gather expired and unused medications and take them to a pharmacy for proper disposal.
If you suspect your child has been poisoned by a medicine, chemical or other substance, call the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre at 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911.

If your child is unconscious, having convulsions, trouble breathing, or chest pain, immediately call 9-1-1.

The BC Drug and Poison Information Centre​ receives about 30,000 calls each year related to unintentional and intentional poisonings and overdoses. They are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week, for advice and information at 604-682-5050 or 1-800-567-8911.

The BC Centre for Disease Control, an agency of the Provincial Health Services Authority, provides provincial and national leadership in public health through surveillance, detection, treatment, prevention and consultation services. The Centre provides both direct diagnostic and treatment services for people with diseases of public health importance and analytical and policy support to all levels of government and health authorities. 


Media Contact:
Ben Hadaway
Communications Officer
Provincial Health Services Authority

Or pager: 604-871-5699

BC Centre for Disease Control; Laundry pods; poison; BC Drug and Poison Information Centre



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