Government of Canada joins countries around the world to promote safe use of laundry detergent packets

Poison Prevention Week focuses on providing safety information to parents and caregivers

March 16, 2015 – North Vancouver – Health Canada

Today, on behalf of the Honourable Rona Ambrose, Minister of Health, Parliamentary Secretary Cathy McLeod hosted a poison prevention demonstration to mark Poison Prevention Week 2015, from March 15-21. She was joined by Andrew Saxton, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and MP for North Vancouver. Even though poisonings are preventable, thousands of children in Canada visit emergency rooms every year after coming into contact with poisonous substances.

This year, during Poison Prevention Week, Canada is participating in an international campaign organized by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that focuses on warning parents and caregivers about the hazards associated with the use of laundry detergent packets. These small and often brightly coloured products may be mistaken by children for candy even though they often contain highly concentrated cleaning products. If ingested, laundry detergent packets can cause serious illness or even death.

The Government of Canada, along with the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, are participating in the development of a safety standard for laundry detergent packets. The new voluntary standard, which is expected to be in place by mid-2015, will provide guidance to industry on labelling and packaging to help reduce the likelihood of unintentional exposure, especially to children. For example, it will call for manufacturers to introduce packaging that prevents children from being able to see or touch the products inside.

Canadians are encouraged to learn more about the safe use of laundry detergent packets online, and by following Health Canada on Twitter and through subscribing to the Healthy Canadians Facebook page.

To prevent poisonings at home, Canadian parents and caregivers are reminded to:

Keep chemicals, medications, cosmetics, cleaning supplies and art supplies safely stored in a locked cabinet or box, out of sight and reach of children;
Make sure all child-resistant containers are functioning properly; and
Teach children that the hazard symbols on household chemical products mean “Danger! Do not touch.”

If a poisoning is suspected, contact the Poison Control Centre nearest you or 911 immediately. Keep emergency numbers by your telephone. As a follow-up action, Canadians are encouraged to report any poisoning incident from a consumer product to the company where the product was purchased and then to Health Canada.

Quick Facts
The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates an average three deaths each year in Canada among children aged 14 years and younger from unintentional poisoning and another 900 are hospitalized with serious injuries.
A Canadian Paediatric Society study of injuries associated with liquid detergent packets treated by paediatricians gathered information on 54 children with injuries following exposure. The study found that more than half of these children (56%) were less than 2 years of age and another 43% were aged 2-4 years.
The Government of Canada is working in collaboration with the Canadian Association of Poison Control Centres, medical directors of poison control centers, provincial and international partners, on the possible development of a Canadian Surveillance System for Poison Information. Establishing this system would provide near real time surveillance and generate national statistics from poisonings, chemical intoxications and adverse drug reactions.

“Our Government is committed to keeping Canadians safe and free from injury. Poison Prevention Week is an opportunity for parents and caregivers to learn the critical importance of keeping dangerous products out of the reach of children. Today’s demonstration provides important tips on keeping laundry detergent packets and other household chemical products locked up and stored safely.”
Cathy McLeod
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health

“The safety of Canadians and their families is a priority to our Government. Initiatives such as Poison Prevention Week provide an important reminder of the dangers that can be caused by household chemicals and cleaning products, and provide tools and information to keep children and families safe.”
Andrew Saxton
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Finance and Member of Parliament for North Vancouver

“In Canada, a child dies every nine hours as a result of a preventable injury. Raising awareness of poison prevention is critical and National Poison Prevention Week provides an important opportunity to educate parents and caregivers about how to keep their children safe from harm.”
Louise Logan, President and CEO

“Every day, the BC Drug and Poison Information Centre receives many calls from parents and caregivers of children under the age of five. The best way to protect children from unintentional poisoning is through prevention. However, sometimes despite our best intentions children still manage to get into things. In these instances it is important to know the number of your poison control centre and phone immediately to find out what to do.”
Dr. Debra Kent, Clinical Supervisor
BC Drug and Poison Information Centre

Associated Links

Michael Bolkenius
Office of the Honourable Rona Ambrose
Federal Minister of Health

Health Canada
Media Relations

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