A new trend has taken hold of the internet, and this one — the Tide Pod challenge — has poison control agencies and laundry detergent companies sending out warnings.
Internet challenges are nothing new and usually not dangerous. The cinnamon challenge, where someone puts a spoonful of cinnamon in their mouth, and the milk gallon challenge, where someone tries to drink an entire gallon of milk in an hour, came and went like any other internet trend.
This challenge is much more dangerous. The Tide Pod challenge, which began at the end of 2017, entails biting into a laundry detergent pod and recording what happens. A handful of YouTubers have made videos of them doing the challenge, but YouTube has taken all the videos down citing safety issues. Facebook is also taking down videos of the challenge.
Spokeswoman Petra Renck for Tide’s parent company, Proctor & Gamble, said, “Laundry pacs are made to clean clothes. They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance, even if meant as a joke. Like all household cleaning products, they must be used properly and stored safely.”
The topic has gotten buzz online and in mainstream media, mainly about the danger aspect. The outer layer of the pods are made to dissolve when they get wet, so contents of the pods are automatically released when someone puts it in their mouth.
Laundry detergent is not meant for human consumption and is made of dangerous chemicals that can lead to life threatening injuries. They cause damage to the esophagus, burns, blood pressure changes, gastrointestinal problems, as well as neurological symptoms and loss of consciousness, according to abcnews.com.
One chemical in the pods is 1,4 Dioxane. Long-term exposure to the substance can cause eye and nose irritation, kidney problems and possible long-term lung damage, according to the Agency for Toxic Substance and Disease Registry.
People have been rushed to the hospital after ingesting these pods.
In the first half of January, there were 39 cases where teenagers intentionally exposed themselves to detergent packets, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. That’s as many cases as there were in all of 2016.
In 2017, there were 53 cases involving teenagers.
Children consume even more Tide pods than other age groups. In 2017, there were 10,570 reports of children 5 and under being exposed to the detergent pods, according to the centers.
If you or someone you know has ingested laundry detergent, call the American Association of Poison Control Centers hotline at 1-800-222-1222. You can also text “poison” to 797979.