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Global Awareness-raising Campaign on Laundry detergent capsules/packets #Laundrysafe

16-03-2015

The OECD Global Awareness-raising Campaign on Laundry Detergent Capsules (16 to 23 March 2015) aims to inform of the risks posed by a product that is present in growing number of households worldwide: laundry detergent capsules (or packets). These products can be attractive to children and can pose serious dangers if not handled and stored safely.

Kids don't see the difference, keep laundry capsules away from children

The campaign

The campaign aims to inform consumers, especially parents, to safely use and store laundry detergent capsules, keeping them away from children; businesses are asked to follow/share safety related best practices as well as to help raise awareness on the safe use of laundry capsules.

This worldwide campaign involves 26 consumer product safety authorities from 5 continents: European Commission (project leader), Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.

A coordinated global action, especially in the social media, ensures an extraordinary potential for reaching out worldwide. A previous global campaign on button battery safety (#worldbatterysafety) sets the good model.

In addition to activities to raise awareness, some jurisdictions have introduced specific regulatory requirements for these products. For example, the European Commission recently adopted a Regulation on additional safety measures for liquid laundry detergents capsules, which will apply as from 1 June 2015.

Join the campaign!

The following campaign materials can be downloaded for all stakeholders to help raise awareness:

The product and the hazards

Laundry detergent liquid capsules/packets contain concentrated detergent for single use. The content, protected by a membrane, is released once it comes in contact with the moisture during a washing.

Yet, laundry detergent liquid capsules/packets are small, tactile and often colourful, which makes them attractive to children, especially toddlers, who are tempted to put them in the mouth or play with them. A laundry liquid capsule can burst in a child's hand, especially when it is wet or moist. It can also rapidly dissolve with moisture and may burst in a child's mouth in as little as ten seconds, which can cause severe injuries.

The main consequences of exposure can be:

  • In case of ingestion: severe vomiting, coughing, respiratory disorders, nausea, drowsiness and rash.
  • In case of contact with the eyes: conjunctivitis, pain in the eye, eye irritation.
  • In case of contact with the skin: rash, skin irritation, chemical burn.

Cases of incidents and exposures

Yearly, over 16 000 cases reported worldwide of people (mostly children) exposed to chemicals contained in the laundry capsules/packets.

This number includes the cases of exposures to chemicals contained in laundry detergent capsules registered in the most recent year of data available (2012 or 2013 or 2014) in the following countries: USA, Japan, Germany, Czech Republic, The Netherlands, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Spain, Estonia, Latvia, Hungary, Portugal, Korea, Belgium, Ireland and Australia.

More detailed data on reported exposures in specific jurisdictionspdf(118 kB) Choose translations of the previous link 

Safety messages for parents and carers

SAFE STORAGE

  • Store these products up high, out of reach and out of sight of children;
  • If stored in lower accessible cabinets/cupboards, these should be secured with child resistant locks;
  • Keep the capsules/packets in their original container, fully closed between uses.

SAFE USE

  • Carefully read the labels on the packaging;
  • Do not use the capsules/packets while children are close by and do not allow or invite children to manipulate them;
  • Never pierce or break laundry capsules/packets;
  • Do not leave the capsules/packets outside their container;
  • Close the container lid properly after every use.

WHAT TO DO IN CASE OF EXPOSURE

In case of a child’s accidental exposure:

  • If the capsule/packet is put in the mouth, rinse the child’s mouth and face thoroughly;
  • Do not induce vomiting;
  • If a child has capsule liquid close to eyes or on hands, rinse carefully with plenty of water
  • Call a doctor, or a Poison Control Centre or go to the medical emergency department.

FOR BUSINESSES and STAKEHOLDERS

  • Follow/share safety related best practices including on safe packaging and labelling (even where no regulatory measures exist)
  • Raise awareness on the safe use of laundry capsules/packets. Interesting campaigns by the industry in Europe and the United States.

Campaign activities worldwide

Jurisdiction

Websites and
social media

Communication material

OECD

Australia

European Commission

USA

Canada

Chile

Peru

Republic of Korea

Japan

France

Mexico

Estonia

Finland

Czech Republic

United Kingdom

Portugal

Spain

Malta

Latvia

Ireland

Cyprus

 Hungary

Bosnia and Herzegovina

 Singapore