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Reported toxicity in 1486 liquid detergent capsule exposures to the UK National Poisons Information Service 2009-2012, including their ophthalmic and CNS effects

Author/s Williams H, Jones S, Wood K, Scott R, Eddleston M, Thomas S, Thompson J, Vale JA.
Year 2014
Type of publication Journal article

Context. Data on the ophthalmic and central nervous system (CNS) adverse effects of liquid detergent capsules (liquid laundry pods) are limited. Objective. To ascertain the reported toxicity of liquid detergent capsules, particularly their ophthalmic and CNS adverse effects, in a large case series. Methods. Between 1 May 2009 and 30 July 2012 the UK National Poisons Information Service collected prospectively 1509 telephone enquiries (involving 1486 exposures) relating to liquid detergent capsules. Results. The majority of patients (95.6%) were children aged less than 5. Exposure to these products occurred mainly as a result of ingestion alone (n = 1215; 81.8%), with eye contact alone (n = 110; 7.4%), and skin contact alone (n = 20; 1.3%) being less common; multiple routes of exposure were involved in 141 (9.5%) cases. Following ocular exposure (n = 212), features suggesting conjunctivitis (n = 145; 68.4%) and corneal ulceration (n = 6; 2.8%) developed. The most common features reported following ingestion alone were nausea and vomiting (n = 721; 59.3%), followed by coughing (n = 53; 4.4%), drowsiness/CNS depression (n = 49; 42 of these were children were aged 2 years or less) and foaming at the mouth (n = 47; 3.9%). A rash occurred in 22 patients where ingestion was considered to be the route of exposure. Twenty patients were exposed via the dermal route alone and developed erythema (n = 9), rash (n = 6) and burn (n = 3). Conclusions. Ocular exposure to liquid detergent capsules may lead to conjunctivitis and corneal ulceration; detergent ingestion may result in central nervous system (CNS)depression. Greater consumer awareness is required to reduce injury from liquid detergent capsules, particularly that involving the eye.

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