Hundreds of children in Ireland have suffered ill effects from swallowing or handling liquid laundry capsules in the past four years.
The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) yesterday issued a warning to parents to guard against toddlers accessing the capsules which can cause vomiting, rashes, respiratory problems and temporary blindness.
More than 720 enquiries have been made to the National Poisons Information Centre (NPIC) in Beaumont Hospital about liquitabs since 2011, most of them involving children under three years of age. In almost 500 cases the child concerned had symptoms that ranged from minor to moderate, with one case involving severe ill effects.
Last year alone some 168 people contacted the poisons helpline about liquid detergents.
Around 90pc of cases involved people swallowing the liquid while 10pc involved contact with the eye.
The EU Commission introduced emergency legislation last year to improve packaging of liquid tablets and the HSA has been working with detergent manufacturers to make them less accessible to children, with new resistance testing to stop them bursting easily when gripped by children.
If children do swallow the liquid, guardians are advised to rinse as much as possible from the child's mouth with water, but they should not induce vomiting, while if it gets on the hands, they should be thoroughly washed.
If the liquid comes into contact with the eyes, they should be rinsed with water for 10-15 minutes and you should get medical attention or ring the poisons helpline on 01 809 2166.
Parents and childminders are urged to store liquid capsules out of reach of children.