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这款洗衣神器竟然能杀人,该怎么破?

Jake Meth 2019年03月01日

彩色的洗衣凝珠成了宝洁旗下的畅销品之一。问题是,太多孩子因此中毒了。

在凝珠问世后,洗衣剂造成的伤害案立刻增多。根据AAPCC的数据,2011年因洗衣剂伤害致电毒物控制中心有8186起;2013年数字上升到19753起。与洗衣剂有关的急诊科就诊人数增加更为明显。2013年之后,每年至少有85%的伤害和79%的急诊室就诊案例中涉及6岁以下儿童。

“汰渍洗衣凝珠的设计非常吸引幼儿。”加拿大英属哥伦比亚儿童医院研究所的儿童心理学家玛丽安娜·布鲁索尼说。总体来看各家公司生产的洗衣凝珠“颜色、大小、手感、特别适合用手拿和放进嘴里,非常容易吸引孩子。”

布鲁索尼强调,对于1岁或2岁的儿童来说风险最大,因为这么大的孩子已经可以自己走,但又分辨不出什么能吃什么不能吃。一两岁的孩子把东西放进嘴里,“只是小小探索世界的一种方式”,而且可以减轻长牙的痛苦。如果孩子稍大一点,到了3岁或3岁以上,可能就会过了喜欢啃东西的阶段,但还是会把凝珠误认为糖果。

最严重的凝珠吞食案例类似于贝拉·曼西利亚斯的经历:液体流入导致肺部积水并停止呼吸,切断血液供氧导致大脑损伤,出现癫痫或昏迷症状。一些伤者眼部出现严重的化学烧伤。

为什么凝珠造成的伤害比洗衣液严重,医疗专业人士之间还没达成共识。一种理论是,咬破凝珠时,里面的液体会喷射进喉咙,迅速顺着气管流进肺部。另一个假设是凝珠里的洗衣液更为浓缩,例如汰渍洗衣凝珠有效成分与水的比例为90:10,而汰渍洗衣液里有效成分比例约为50%。(对医疗工作者来说比较麻烦的是,没有法律要求制造商披露成分。)

AAPCC的总裁马克·瑞安说,毒物控制中心第一次接到报告凝珠中毒的电话时,主要遵循洗衣液中毒的规则:让误食者喝点水,中心会在半小时后跟进。如果没有严重症状,不建议误食者去医院。

随着毒物控制中心发现凝珠导致越来越多严重伤害,很明显不能再用老办法。在瑞安负责的路易斯安那州毒物控制中心,他让呼叫服务人员5到10分钟后就要回电,监测呼吸系统有没有问题。如果出现异常,立即让来电者送往最近的医院就诊。

然而,一些受害者最终没撑到急诊室。俄亥俄州斯普林菲尔德的丹尼斯·鲍尔斯是一位和蔼有趣的老人,他女儿罗宾说,“一个陌生人也不认识”。丹尼斯是海军老兵,俄亥俄州立大学七叶树队的死忠粉,1999年被诊断患有痴呆症。2014年2月15日,他的妻子达琳回家放下一些杂货,包括一袋汰渍洗衣凝珠,然后出去买别的东西。

达琳说,几个小时后她回到家,发现丹尼斯倒在白色摇椅的靠背上。椅子上一片橙色,丹尼斯嘴里还有洗衣液,脉搏几乎停止。达琳赶紧打911,但急救队没有救回丹尼斯,宣布他当场死亡,终年67岁。

Laundry detergent injuries spiked immediately after pods came out. In 2011 there were 8,186 calls to poison-control centers regarding laundry detergent exposures among the entire population, according to the AAPCC; in 2013, that figure rose to 19,753. Emergency-department visits related to laundry detergent increased even more sharply. And each year since then, at least 85% of exposures and 79% of E.R. visits have involved children under age 6.

“The Tide Pod, as it’s designed, is an ideal product for attracting toddlers,” says Mariana Brussoni, a child psychologist at the British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute. With laundry pods in general, “in terms of the colors they tend to have, the size, the feel, the fact that it can easily fit in their hands and their mouths—this is something that would be very appealing.”

Brussoni emphasizes that the risk would be greatest for children 1 or 2 years old, who are old enough to be mobile but too young to know what’s appropriate to eat. For kids that age, putting things in their mouth is “just another way of doing little experiments on the world,” and can also ease the pain of teething. Slightly older children, ages 3 and up, would be past that phase—but would recognize pods as looking like candy.

The most severe of the pod-ingestion cases have involved symptoms similar to the ones suffered by Bella Mancillas: An influx of fluid causes the lungs to flood and shut down, cutting off the flow of oxygen to the blood so severely that it can cause brain injuries such as seizures or comas. Some victims also suffer severe eye injuries from chemical burns.

There’s no consensus among health professionals as to precisely why pods have caused more serious injuries than liquid detergent has. One theory is that when the packets are bitten, their contents shoot into the throat with such force that they flow quickly down the trachea into the lungs. Another hypothesis is that the concentration of packets plays a role: Tide Pods, for example, have a 90:10 active-ingredient-to-water ratio, compared with about 50% water for liquid Tide. (Another complicating factor for health care workers: Manufacturers are not legally required to disclose all of their ingredients.)

When pods first came out and poison-control centers began getting calls, the centers followed the rules of liquid detergent poisoning: The person exposed was told to drink a bit of water, and the center would follow up after a half-hour, says Mark Ryan, president of the AAPCC. If there were no serious symptoms, the person exposed was not advised to go to a health care facility.

As poison centers increasingly witnessed severe injuries from pods, it became clear that those rules no longer applied. At the Louisiana Poison Control Center, which Ryan directs, he instructed call responders to follow up after only five to 10 minutes and monitor for respiratory issues. If those were detected, the caller was directed to go immediately to the nearest emergency room.

A few victims never got that far. Dennis Powers of Springfield, Ohio, was a kind, funny man who “never knew a stranger,” according to his daughter, Robyn. A Navy veteran and die-hard Ohio State Buckeyes fan, Dennis was diagnosed with dementia in 1999. He was still in relatively good physical health on Feb. 15, 2014, when his wife, Darlene, dropped off some groceries at home, including a pouch of Tide Pods, and went out to get more supplies.

When she returned a few hours later, Darlene says, she found Dennis slumped over the back of his white rocking chair. The chair was covered in orange dye, and there was detergent coming out of Dennis’s mouth. He barely had a pulse. Darlene called 911, but EMTs couldn’t revive Dennis and pronounced him dead at the scene. He was 67.

突然失去亲人:达琳·鲍尔斯拿着丈夫丹尼斯的照片。验尸官报告显示,丹尼斯死亡是因为吃了一个洗衣凝珠。图片来源:Photograph by Amy Powell for Fortune

丹尼斯的尸检报告称,死因是吞食凝珠导致窒息。袋子里的31个凝珠中有5个不见了,两个在丹尼斯椅子旁的地板上,一个在酒杯里,一个在垃圾桶里,每个凝珠看起来都被咀嚼过。报告最后写着:“剩下一个凝珠没有找到。”

丹尼斯去世即将满五周年时,达琳在俄亥俄州律师事务所努力保持镇定,一边回忆了整件事。达琳和罗宾说,能解释丹尼斯吃凝珠的唯一原因就是看起来像糖果。达琳说:“他以前经常吃漩涡状的救生圈糖果。”

Dennis’s autopsy report declares that he died from asphyxiation resulting from ingesting a pod. Of the 31 pods that came in the pouch, five were missing: Two were found on the floor next to Dennis’s chair, one in a drinking glass, and one in the trash can; all appeared to have been chewed. The report concludes: “The remaining pod was not found.”

Recounting the incident at her lawyer’s office in Ohio, just before the fifth anniversary of Dennis’s death, Darlene struggles to keep her composure. The only reason that could explain why Dennis ate a pod, Darlene and Robyn say, is that they look like candy. “He was used to eating swirled Life Savers,” says Darlene.

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