During the past five years, poison control centers have received well over 50,000 calls relating to liquid laundry packet exposures. While unintentional misuse by children five and under accounted for the majority of these calls, a recent trend among teenagers ingesting the packets— and uploading videos to various internet platforms including video-sharing websites, social media, and vlogging platforms— has caused significant concern among poison control centers.
According to AAPCC data, in 2016 and 2017, poison control centers handled thirty-nine and fifty-three cases of intentionalexposures, respectively, among thirteen to nineteen year olds. In the first fifteen days of 2018 alone, centers have already handled thirty-nine such intentional cases among the same age demographic. Ingestion accounted for ninety-one percent of these reported exposures.
“The ‘laundry packet challenge’ is neither funny nor without serious health implications,” said Stephen Kaminski, JD, AAPCC’s CEO and Executive Director. “The intentional misuse of these products poses a real threat to the health of individuals. We have seen a large spike in single-load laundry packet exposures among teenagers since these videos have been uploaded.”
The resulting health implications from misuse can be serious. Known potential effects include seizures, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death.
“Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers of swallowing the contents of a single-load laundry packet. Only use the packets for their intended use and be sure to store them up and away,” said Kaminski. “If you or a loved one misuses a liquid laundry packet or has a question about the risk of an exposure to one, a poison control expert can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-222-1222.”