Global detergent capsule safety campaign kicks off

A global campaign to create awareness of the dangers associated with laundry detergent capsules has kicked off today, aiming to highlight the 16,000 cases of chemical exposure reported every year.

The OECD Global Awareness-raising Campaign on Laundry Detergent Capsules has the involvement of 22 consumer product safety authorities from countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, Chile, France, Japan, Mexico, the UK, and the USA.

The campaign calls for consumers, especially parents, to take precautions when using and storing laundry detergent capsules. Capsules contain liquid detergent in a water-soluble package that releases its content on contact with moisture.

The ACCC has revealed that over 280 incidents involving children aged six or younger have been reported since 2011, with 85 reported last year alone. Contact with the detergent can result in severe irritation or chemical burns to the skin, eyes or gastro intestinal tract, eye damage, coughing, vomiting, internal bleeding, breathing difficulty or drowsiness.

“Laundry capsules are small and often colourful, making them attractive to young children. Yet the damage they can cause may be shocking,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

“The product has only been widely available in the market recently and its risks are not necessarily well-known. This is why regulators worldwide have identified it as a priority emerging issue and joined together to share information to help parents protect their young children.”

Pointers for safety include the practice of storing products away from areas accessible to children, reading packaging carefully, ensuring capsules are not left outside containers, and never piercing or breaking capsules.

In case of exposure, especially when dealing with a child, the ACCC suggests to rinse the person’s mouth and face thoroughly, to not induce vomiting, to call a doctor or a Poison Control Centre, or to go immediately to the nearest medical emergency department.

The worldwide campaign is pushing a social media presence, calling for participants to share key information and safety messages using the hashtag #laundrysafe.

More information can be found on the European Commission’s website: http://ec.europa.eu/justice/newsroom/consumer-marketing/events/150316_en.htm

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