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May 15, 1972

Hazards of Alkaline Laundry Detergents

Author Affiliations

University of Miami School of Medicine Coral Gables, Fla
Tenalfy, NJ

JAMA. 1972;220(7):1014-1015. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03200070102026

To the Editor.—  The purpose of this letter is to alert physicians to dangers associated with the accidental ingestion, by small children, of some nonphosphate highly alkaline laundry detergents. In many parts of the country these new washing agents will replace phosphate detergents which have been used for years and have an excellent record of safety in the home.The FDA, aware of the hazards of certain of these detergents, has announced that improved labeling will be required on a number of them. Unfortunately, however, children under 5 years of age cannot read, and since these nonphosphate cleaners will be placed where they are most convenient—usually within easy reach of youngsters—we can expect an increase in injury from ingestion and eye and skin irritations.In recent years, approximately 3,000 children ingested some household detergent or cleaner annually. According to Jensen, this figure represents only one sixth to one eighth of