Amarillo, TX - Hundreds of children have fallen ill in Texas from exposure to dangerous detergent packets and those numbers continue to grow.
The Texas Panhandle Poison Center has seen 150 cases of poisonings across the Panhandle this year alone.
"Children are getting into these very frequently because they're very attractive," explained Texas Panhandle Poison Center managing director Dr. Jeanie Jaramillo. "They're pretty, they have bright colors, and they're also packaged in a small package that is very easy for a child to place in their mouth."
The candy-like appearance of the packets doesn't help. "What we're finding is young children, those ages five and under, are getting into these pretty commonly. They're putting them in their mouth or they are looking at them and they squeeze them. They can burst and expose the children to the detergents that are inside," said Dr. Jaramillo.
In most cases, ingesting the packets causes severe vomiting, but the side effects can be much worse. "Many children are developing an aspiration pneumonia," said Dr. Jaramillo. "They begin coughing and they get a little bit of the detergent in their lungs and it develops a chemical injury in their lungs." Some children even have to be placed on a ventilator to help support respirations as they recover.
Detergent companies do clearly warn customers of the danger on product labels, but accidental poisonings keep happening. Since 2012, there have been almost 1,700 detergent pod poisonings in Texas.