Parents should be aware that teens are participating in a new dangerous behavior involving an internet challenge. It's called the "Tide Pod Challenge," and it dares teens to put the colorful pods into their mouths.
The challenge originated as a joke in 2015. The Onion posted a satirical article about "The lure of Tide Pods," which look almost like candy. The column was from the perspective of a child who wanted to eat a blue and red detergent pod.
While it was satire, it's a real problem. In 2017, poison control centers received reports of more than 10,500 exposures to the highly concentrated laundry detergent in the pods by children 5 and younger, said USA Today.
In March 2017, a video brought the pods back into public notice. In College Humor’s "Don’t Eat The Laundry Pods" video, the video showed a college student tempted to eat Tide Pods. After research showed how toxic the pods are, he still ends up gorging on a bowl full of pods.
The video ends with the student saying he doesn’t regret it eating it. Dares about eating the pods followed on Reddit and Twitter.
People have questioned whether anyone, who is not a child, would be silly enough to consume laundry detergent. However, disturbing videos of teens putting Tide Pods in their mouth and even cooking with them are making the rounds online.
Parents should be concerned. The pods pose a serious health risk to children and lethal risks for adults with dementia. Healthy teens or adults who eat or even bite into the pods could also experience symptoms.
Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, said eating them could cause "life-threatening" situation.
"Swallowing even a small amount of the highly-concentrated detergent found in pods can cause diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases, some of the detergent could even find its way into the lungs and cause breathing difficulties," said USA Today.
"Ending up in the emergency room is no joke," said Aleguas Jr.
Tide has a page on its website dedicated to the safe handling of its products, advising consumers to drink a glass of water or milk if a product is swallowed and call for help.
“Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes … They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if meant as a joke,” Tide said in a statement.
If you or someone you know has eaten a laundry detergent pod, call the national poison help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your phone.
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