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Toxicity of soluble film automatic dishwashing products as reported to the United Kingdom National Poisons Information Service 2008-2015

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Simon Thomas


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Introduction: Soluble film automatic dishwashing tablets, unlike their traditional counterparts, require no removal from an outer protective wrapper prior to use. Instead, the tablets are enclosed by a water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol film and are loaded straight into the dishwashing machine. They most commonly contain a source of hydrogen peroxide (often as sodium percarbonate) and non-ionic surfactants. Other constituents in some formulations include sodium carbonate, sodium tripolyphosphate and sodium silicate, which reduce water hardness. The pH once dissolved in water is alkaline.Objective: To determine the toxicity from exposure to soluble film automatic dishwashing tablets.Methods: Telephone enquiries to the United Kingdom National Poisons Information Service regarding soluble film automatic dishwashing products were analysed retrospectively for the period January 2008 to December 2015.Results: There were 498 enquiries relating to 488 patients. Almost all exposures occurred in the home (98.4%) and involved children aged 5years (92.8%). Exposure occurred mainly as a result of ingestion alone (n=470, 96.3%); eye contact alone (n=9, 1.8%) and exposures involving multiple routes (ingestion with skin or eye contact; n=9, 1.8%) made up the remaining cases. The majority of patients were asymptomatic following exposure (n=325, 67.4%). The most common feature following ingestion was vomiting which occurred in 121 of 474 cases (25.5%) where clinical data were available. Nausea (n=8, 1.7%) and coughing (n=6, 1.3%) were also reported; three patients developed stomatitis and another five developed a rash where ingestion alone was considered to be the sole route of exposure. Ocular exposure to the tablet contents resulted in blurred vision, eye pain or conjunctivitis in seven of ten patients.Conclusion: Ingestion of a soluble film automatic dishwashing tablet rarely resulted in clinically significant symptoms, which is surprising given the potential hazard of the ingredients. Hence, it seems probable that the amount of material actually ingested was very small or that most was spat out.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Day R, Eddleston M, Thomas SHL, Thompson JP, Vale JA

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Clinical Toxicology

Year: 2016

Volume: 54

Issue: 9

Pages: 862-866

Print publication date: 01/11/2016

Online publication date: 20/07/2016

Acceptance date: 01/07/2016

ISSN (print): 1556-3650

ISSN (electronic): 1556-9519

Publisher: Taylor & Francis


DOI: 10.1080/15563650.2016.1209762


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