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CDC: Laundry Detergent Pods an ‘Emerging Public Health Hazard’

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- There's a new warning for parents who use laundry pods and how kids are mistaking them for bright, colorful candy and eating them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on Thursday saying that during a 30-day period this summer, there were 1,008 cases of children eating the detergent pods.  Initial reports suggested poison centers across the country were seeing an average of 10 cases a day.

Ninety-four percent of poisonings from the laundry detergent pods are among kids 5 years old and younger, according to the CDC's report.

The CDC says that exposure to the detergent pods is "an emerging public health hazard in the United States."

Parents are learning just how dangerous the bite-sized laundry detergent pods really are.  The concentrated packet of detergent sent 1-year-old Isabella Sutton to the hospital after she ate one.

"I just figured they got into candy, and they were eating candy," Jessica Sutton, Isabella's mom, told ABC News.

Minutes later, Isabella had severe vomiting and diarrhea before being rushed to the emergency room.  Similar reactions have been reported across the country with many children also experiencing drowsiness, nausea and potentially life-threatening symptoms like difficulty breathing.

"You don't think about safety proofing laundry detergent," Sutton said.

The makers of Tide detergent -- Proctor & Gamble -- told ABC News in May they planned to unveil new childproof packaging by the summer.  The new packaging features a double latch lid and a larger warning label on the container that some critics say looks like a candy jar.

Proctor & Gamble has distributed the new containers, but never recalled the old ones.  ABC News visited four stores this week and found the old, easy to open plastic containers on shelves.

Proctor & Gamble told ABC News that they are adding an over-the-lid re-sealable sticker that will "gradually be available as of December in stores."  Consumers who would like to use the re-sealable sticker earlier can do so by calling 1-877-751-7227 beginning Nov. 1.

Henkel -- the maker of Purex Ultra Packs -- told ABC News that since May, they have "updated the packaging with clearer labels to warn parents about the risks and to provide more specific instructions in the event of ingestion."

Other detergent manufacturers who previously told ABC News in May that they were reviewing the safety packaging did not respond to requests for an update.

Until changes are made, poison control experts say the onus falls on the parents to keep the detergent packets locked up and out of the reach of children.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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