Date
26 March 2017
Colorful liquid detergent capsules can mislead people into thinking that the products might be candy, authorities warn. Photos: esdlife.com, parents.com
Colorful liquid detergent capsules can mislead people into thinking that the products might be candy, authorities warn. Photos: esdlife.com, parents.com

Laundry gel packs emerge as new poisoning threat

A government-backed institute has urged the public to be careful about colorful laundry gel packs, noting that there have been quite a few cases of people getting poisoned by eating the candy-like capsules by mistake.

The Hong Kong Poison Control Network issued the warning as several households have begun to use laundry gel packs or pods as detergents.

The bright liquid-detergent capsules can prompt unwary citizens, especially the children and the elderly, to think that they might be edible substances and try them out, it said.  

The agency said it found for first time last year that several poisoning cases were related to laundry gel packs or pods, am730 reported.

Citizens should take care to put detergents in safe places and also keep clear labels to warn people about the contents of the packs, it said.

In 2015, there were four poisoning cases resulting from those colorful packs, compared to the total of 3,960 cases the institution received in the year.

But as all four cases involved children and the elderly, it suggests that the capsules might have been taken as candy, said Dr. Lau Fe-lung, director of the Hong Kong Poison Control Network.

It was found that the laundry gel packs or pods, which are small, squishy, and brightly colored, smell good but lack clear labels.

When consumed, the liquids can cause nausea or diarrhea or even pneumonia.

If one consumes the capsules by mistake, he should avoid drinking a lot of water immediately. He should instead use just a small amount to wash the mouth and go to the hospital quickly, Lau said.

Contact with the laundry gel packs resulted in 1,009 poisoning cases that were reported to American Association of Poison Control Centers in January alone, and most of them involved children at 5 or younger, according to the am730 report.

US authorities have called on parents to put the laundry gel packs in places beyond children’s reach and also urged makers to resign their packages and enhance the warning signs.

Data from the Hong Kong Poison Control Network showed 139 of the nearly 4,000 poisoning cases in the city last year were serious. Of them, 31 involved deaths – 18 men and 13 women.

Their ages ranged from 29 to 90.

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