Liquid-detergent packets threaten children’s eyes

Small sealed bags containing liquid detergent for single loads of laundry may be convenient, but if squeezed, they’re liable to burst and spray their caustic contents into people’s eyes, warns a team of physicians. Noel Horgan and other ophthalmologists at Children’s University Hospital in Dublin, treated six children in as many months for eye injuries that occurred while the youngsters were playing with the packets of liquid detergent.

Each of the children, ages 18 months to 3 years, was hospitalized for 2 to 5 days for chemical injuries to the surface of one or both corneas. In each case, parents had promptly flushed the child’s eyes with water, which helped prevent permanent damage, the physicians report in the Aug. 13 Lancet.

Liquid-filled bags and solid detergent tablets, which dissolve in the wash, are marketed as alternatives to containers of powdered detergent. The single-load products already carry labels warning users to keep them away from children, who, the researchers say, are attracted to the squishy objects.

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