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Eye Injuries From Liquid Laundry Detergent Packets

Parents Be Warned: Liquid Laundry Detergent Packets Are Giving Kids Serious Chemical Eye Burns

Despite countless reports of kids confusing liquid laundry detergent packet for candy, this isn't the only risk that parents need to worry about. These small packets are also causing an increasing number of chemical eye burns in young children.

According to a new report published in JAMA Ophthalmology, the number of reported chemical eye injuries in preschool-age children increased 32-fold between 2012 and 2015. Although it's important to note that the study looked at data from before new voluntary safety standards created to prevent these types of accidents went into effect, many parents aren't even aware of this potential hazard.

"This is potentially very serious," the study's coauthor, R. Sterling Haring, told Today. "The chemicals, like those found in these detergent packets, can cause long-term, potentially permanent vision damage."

It's believed that a majority of the injuries occurred after kids squeezed or popped the packets and some of the detergent got into their eyes. According to the report, nearly 85 percent of the cases happened at home. Although there were only 12 reported cases of eye injuries related to liquid laundry packets in 2012, 480 children were hurt by the end of 2015.

"It's squishy, it's fun to play with — these kids are playing with them like they're toys or they're trying to bite into them like they're candy," Haring said.

To combat this, by the end of 2016, 99 percent of products shipped to retailers complied to a voluntary safety standard made to "withstand the squeezing pressure of a child. "The standard includes a set of secure package closures designed to challenge the typical strength, mental acuity, or dexterity of a young child, have implemented changes proven effective at deterring child access while ensuring adults are able to open it and completely close it in between uses," Brian Sansoni, a spokesman for the American Cleaning Institute Manufacturers, said in a statement.

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