CBS News reports that in this latest social media fad, teenagers are putting detergent pods in their mouths in what’s being called the “Tide Pod Challenge.”
Ingredients in the pods include ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and polymers – a highly-toxic mix of detergent meant to wipe out dirt and grime. Manufacturers have been concerned about toddlers mistakenly ingesting them, but now teens are popping them on purpose and posting videos of the results online, reports CBS News correspondent Anna Werner.
Nineteen-year-old Marc Pagan, who did it on a dare, told CBS News he knew better but did it anyway.
“A lot of people were just saying how stupid I was or how – why would I be willing to do that,” he said. “No one should be putting anything like that in their mouths, you know?”
Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, says ingesting any of the liquid carries a deadly risk.
“This is what started out as a joke on the internet and now it’s just gone too far,” Buerkle said.
The pods are bright and colorful and to children they can look like candy. At least 10 deaths have been linked to ingesting these pods. Two were toddlers, eight were seniors with dementia.
Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide products, told CBS News: “They should not be played with… Even if meant as a joke. Safety is no laughing matter.”
More than 62,000 children under the age of six were exposed to laundry and dishwasher detergents, between 2013 and 2014.
The next year, Consumer Reports said it would no longer recommend detergent packets, citing “the unique risks” while urging the “adoption of tougher safety measures.”
“Laundry detergent pods are highly concentrated detergent,” says Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and spokeswoman for the Iowa Poison Control Center. “Biting into them can cause diarrhea, some vomiting and sometimes that vomiting can even go on and on, excessive vomiting where we worry about it leading into dehydration.” Even if it’s being done as a joke and the person never intends to swallow the detergent, biting into the pod will likely make it squirt right down their gullet.
“It can cause burns in the mouth, the throat and the stomach,” Noble says. “Or there’s been cases where it accidentally gets into the lungs, where they aspirate it. That can cause significant breathing problems and sometimes that patient needs to be put on a ventilator to help them breathe.”