Durbin: Rising Number Of Poisonings In Children Due To Laundry Detergent Packets Is Alarming

Senator Holds Press Conference in DC Joined by Chicago Pediatrician and Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Injury Violence and Poison Prevention

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), U.S. Representative Jackie Speier (D-CA), and Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) today held a press conference – during National Poison Prevention Week – to discuss the Detergent Poisoning and Child Safety Act (PACS Act), a bill that would address the rising number of poisonings in children due to liquid detergent packets. Speaking in support of the PACS Act today was Chicago native Dr. Kyran Quinlan, pediatrician and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Injury Violence and Poison Prevention. Photos of today’s press conference and of Durbin meeting with Dr. Quinlan following the press conference are available here. Jill Koziol, a mother of an 8-month-old injured by a liquid detergent pack, also spoke at today’s press conference. She gave a powerful statement about her personal experience when her child was hospitalized from ingesting a liquid detergent pack.

“A couple months ago a doctor from the Chicago area who was part of the National Poison Control Center alerted me to this situation,” Durbin said. “How many things do we have in our home that have child-proof caps on them to protect kids from their curiosity?”


“When you look at these packets you think, how would a kid know the difference between something that is toxic and something that is sweet – until they bite into it.  To the industry, don’t wait to make these products safer. Do it yourself and do it in a hurry, because kids’ lives are at risk.”  

Video of Durbin’s remarks, Jill Koziol’s remarks, and Dr. Quinlan’s remarks at today’s press conference is be available here.

Nationally, the American Association of Poison Control Centers reports more than 11,700 children under age the age of 5 were exposed to chemicals in laundry detergent packets in 2014.  A majority of the children experienced adverse reactions, including vomiting, coughing or choking and respiratory distress.

The PACS Act would require the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to set mandatory safety standards for easily accessible liquid detergent packets, which expose thousands of children each year to caustic chemicals.  Specifically, the bill would give the CPSC the authority and direction to issue rules requiring safer, child-resistant packaging for liquid detergent packets within eighteen months compelling industry to implement stronger and more effective policies that address:

  • Child-proof packaging for the container holding liquid detergent packets;
  • Design and color of the packets to make them less appealing to children;


  • Composition of packets to make consequences of exposure less severe; and


  • Proper warning labels that adequately inform consumers of the potential risks. 


Earlier this month, Durbin sent a letter to the American Society for Testing and Materials—a nonprofit multi-stakeholder organization charged with developing safety standards—urging them to finalize its voluntary safety standards to reduce the safety hazards associated with liquid detergent packets as soon as possible. Last year, the Illinois Poison Control Center received 449 calls for children exposed to chemicals in laundry detergent packets with an average of 37 per month. This represents a ten percent increase from 2013.  

The PACS Act is also cosponsored by Bill Nelson (D-FL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ed Markey (D-MA), Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).