A 2-year-old girl in the U.K. who died last year was believed to have accidentally ingested toilet bowl cleaner, but was dismissed from the hospital when she seemed to be improving, an investigation revealed. Arietta Grace Barnett, of Sarisbury, England, first worried her mother when she began vomiting pink on June 28, 2019, according to BBC News.
When they arrived at Southampton General Hospital, staff couldn’t determine why she was vomiting pink, as the toilet cleaner was a blue-green color, and her mother did not see her ingest the tablet, according to the news outlet. She began improving and was released from the hospital on July 2 and had a follow-up appointment the next day. On July 9, she suffered cardiac arrest and was rushed back to the hospital where she later died.
Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp, the coroner in the case, has called for further investigation, as it has not been determined that the toilet cleaner caused the corrosion of Arietta’s esophagus.
“The difficulty we have here is a connection between that product and what happened, and it seems to me that needs further investigation, she said, according to The Guardian. “It is designed to stick to a wet surface and not to be flushed through by water. If it does contain agents that can cause this sort of corrosion and this sort of death in a child then it’s very important the manufacturer is aware of that, can investigate themselves, and steps can be taken to prevent this tragedy occurring again.”
She said the packing of the product is attractive to children.
Laundry pods and other cleaning products can pose great danger and possibly even death for children if they are ingested. As a result, companies have been instructed by leading consumer agencies and pediatricians to create safe labeling, product packaging and warnings about potential dangers.
“Detergent in single-use laundry packets is very concentrated and toxic,” according to the HealthyChildren.org, a blog produced by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “If even a small amount of the detergent gets into a child’s mouth or eyes, it can cause serious breathing or stomach problems, eye irritation, and even coma and death. Because detergent packets are often brightly colored and may look similar to some candy or gummy treats, children can easily mistake them for something good to eat. Biting a packet can cause it to burst, shooting detergent into the child’s mouth and throat or eye.”
In the U.S., between 2012 and 2017, poison control centers received 72,947 calls related to liquid laundry detergent packet exposures, with most involving children younger than 6. At least two instances resulted in the deaths of children, while six deaths among adults occurred.