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Packaging can play a role in injury from unsafe products

Certain consumer products may include dangerous components or materials that pose exceptional risks to particular groups of people. Prescription medication, for example, can be deadly if the wrong person accidentally consumes the medication. Products like these are usually packaged in special containers that are not easy to open, and that have conspicuous warning labels.

A study that was recently published in a journal called Pediatrics details the data about the potential dangers of laundry-detergent and dishwasher packets. The packets, or pods, contain concentrated liquid detergent that can cause serious health problems if people ingest it. While adults should know that they must heed the warnings on the packages and not eat the pods, children may not have the same understanding. To make matters worse, some of these pods are packaged in a way that makes them look like candy or toys.

The study showed that in 2013 and 2014, poison control centers throughout the U.S. received tens of thousands of telephone calls about children under the age of six who had been affected by exposure to the detergent pods. The author of the study, who is a research and policy director at Nationwide Children's Hospital, called on product manufacturers to make the packaging for the pods safer for children.

As this case shows, unsafe products aren't always a product of a manufacturing or design defect of the product itself. Sometimes the safety issue is a result of insufficient warnings or improper packaging. Here, some of the manufacturers at issue have attempted to make the detergent pods safer by using different packaging and by coating the pods with a bitter-tasting substance. But for some people, the changes are too little and too late; at least two deaths and a number of life-threatening poisonings resulted from the detergent packages in prior years.

Injury or death from defective products can occur through a variety of different circumstances. People in Orange County who have suffered injuries from a dangerous product can pursue legal claims against the relevant parties.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Laundry Pods More Dangerous to Children Than Other Detergents, Study Finds," Sharon Terlep, April 25, 2016

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