(L. to r.): NYS Senator Brad Hoylman, Bobbi Wilding, Deputy Director of Clean and Healthy New York, Russ Haven, General Counsel for NYPIRG and NYS Assembly Member Aravella Simotas at an Albany news conference on February 6, where Simotas and Hoylman called for passage of their bill mandating safer packaging. Photo Mamta Melwani New York State Assembly Member Aravella Simotas (D, WF-Queens) and NYS Senator Brad Hoylman (D, WF-Manhattan) joined by consumer groups, called on Procter & Gamble, in a letter sent February 5, to overhaul its colorful liquid detergent Tide Pods, and they urged passage of their bill (A4646/S100) to create stronger safety regulations for liquid detergent packets.
At an Albany news conference, Simotas and Hoylman cited over 10,000 poisoning incidents involving young children in 2017, and said that the Procter & Gamble's efforts to date-including the addition of a bittering agent, childproof containers, and some warning labels-have fallen short. The legislators told Procter & Gamble "it's time that you recognized the danger to those least able to protect themselves from a poisonous product packaged like candy." The letter asks Procter & Gamble to remove its products from stores or implement voluntary changes along the lines of their bill including:
Child-resistant wrappers for liquid detergent packets
Clear warning labels on packets
Uniform colors to make packets less visually appealing
Assembly Member Simotas said: "Toxic substances like these laundry pods should not be packaged to look like candy or toys which lure children to put them in their mouths. Even though the industry has adopted voluntary standards, they are not working and it's now clear why we need a law to lessen the risk of poisonings. As a legislator and a mother, I am angry that convenience and marketing have been exalted over the safety of children and people with dementia"
Senator Brad Hoylman said: "As the parent of two young kids, I'm very concerned about the safety of liquid detergent packets, which look and smell like candy. It makes no sense to me that with nearly 30 incidents a day, manufacturers still haven't made these products safe. It's way past time to fix these products or remove them altogether from store shelves."
Children who bite the pods thinking they are toys or candy end up ingesting or inhaling extremely concentrated detergent. This causes vomiting, chemical burns, respiratory distress, seizures, loss of consciousness, fluid in the lungs and even death. Elderly people suffering from dementia have also been poisoned and have died from eating laundry pods. Simotas and Hoylman's bill would lower the risk of poisoning by banning the sale of detergent pods in New York State unless pods are designed in an opaque, uniform color; not easily permeated by a child's bite; and individually enclosed in a separate child-resistant wrapper containing a warning stating: "WARNING: HARMFUL IF PUT IN MOUTH OR SWALLOWED. EYE IRRITANT. KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN."
Russ Haven, General Counsel for New York Public Interest Research Group, said: "It's no joke or passing fad that poison control centers get thousands of calls (due to) chemicals in single-wash packets. Children and adults with cognitive impairments are at risk of death and serious injury from these items that are attractive to kids and can look like food. The tide is turning and manufacturers need to clean up their marketing practices. The Hoylman- Simotas legislation would make it less likely that kids will get access to detergent pods, and if they do, make the pods less attractive and harder to bite open. The legislature should move this smart injury prevention legislation to a floor vote this session."
Bobbi Wilding, Deputy Director of Clean and Healthy New York said, "The problem of tens of thousands of children being poisoned by brightly colored liquid detergent pods highlights the harmful chemicals present in our homes. We applaud Senator Hoylman and his colleagues in the Senate and Assembly for advancing S.100/A.4646 to establish industry standards that will help prevent children from being lured into accidentally poisoning themselves. We also look forward to New York State implementing its Household Cleaning Product Ingredient Disclosure law so we will know exactly what is in these pods and what health hazards they may pose."
Elie Ward, MSW, Director of Policy & Advocacy for New York State American Academy of Pediatrics said, "Pediatricians across New York support all efforts to educate parents and all children's caretakers about the dangers of laundry pods. We recommend that parents remove laundry pods from homes with infants and toddlers. Since the pods were brought to market tens of thousands of young children have been poisoned by these very appealing-looking, but toxic laundry detergent pods. It is our hope that the clear warnings and requirements for child proof packaging in this bill will help educate parents about this dangerous product and further protect infants and toddlers in NY from accidental poisoning."
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