ASTM International has published a safety standard for liquid laundry packets, detailing labeling, warning statements, specifications and testing methods.
Online PR News – 24-October-2016 – Geneva, Switzerland – ASTM International has published a standard for liquid laundry packets. The standard details labeling, warning statements, specifications and testing methods for determining: content retention, force compression, and the presence of aversive agents in the soluble film.
The key points of the new standard are:
• It applies exclusively to household liquid laundry detergent packets
• Packaging should be opaque or otherwise mask the visibility of the packets. Graphics that make the packaging appear translucent or transparent are prohibited
• Companies must include an aversive agent in the soluble film to elicit repulsive behavior within six seconds
• Packaging should be made difficult for children to open, six means of achieving this are detailed in the standard, and compliance must be maintained throughout the life cycle of the product
• Warnings and symbols must be prominently displayed on packaging, secondary containers and on individually wrapped packets
• Liquid detergent packets should retain their contents for at least 30 seconds after being placed in water at 20°C.
• Packets should resist compression of at least 300 N under standard test conditions.
The standard follows reports from around the globe where children and adults have been injured by single-load laundry packets. The majority of cases involved children under the age of six mistaking the packets for candy, toys, or teething products. Because liquid laundry detergent packets are designed to dissolve immediately upon contact with moisture, they represent a significant threat if placed in the mouth. Ingestion of the contents can result in coughing, choking, vomiting, respiratory distress, loss of consciousness, irritation to the eyes, corneal burns, and even death.
ASTM International formed its subcommittee on Liquid Laundry Packets (F15.71), part of Committee F15 on Consumer Products, in 2013 after a number of incidents were reported involving children and adults. These incidents had already led to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issuing its first Safety Alert in November 2012. Further warnings were issued in March 2013 by both CPSC and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).
The ASTM subcommittee consulted with representatives from industry, advocacy groups and consumers to develop a new standard. This standard was first published in September 2015 and updated in December 2015. The standard, ASTM F3159-15 - Standard Safety Specification for Liquid Laundry Packets – is voluntary and aims to reduce the risk of ingestion of packet contents, particularly by children. The study’s authors described the new ASTM voluntary standard as, “a good first step, but it needs to be strengthened” and recommended that homes where children live or visit should only use traditional laundry detergent until binding safety requirements are implemented.
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