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Teens Risking Health with Tide Pod Challenge


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Doctors warned teenagers who take part in the online Tide pod challenge that they could end up in the emergency room. The challenge involves kids eating the colorful Tide pods, a handy three-in-one laundry solution.

According to the manufacturing giant, the pods are made up of a stain remover and brightener in one convenient pack filled with detergent. It is available in small, compact doses to make washing clothes less of a hassle.

Colorful pods

The attractive blue-red-white colors of the tiny pods are eye candies which explain why kids place it in frying pans and cook it before consuming the pods. All over social media, there are images and memes of the cooked pods, WFTV reported.

Even a small amount of the pods, if swallowed, could lead to diarrhea and vomiting, Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., the managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center, warned. He added the detergent can creep into the lungs and burn the respiratory tract.

The National Capital Poison Center, a not-for-profit organization based in DC, said that if someone bites into the pod, it can cause serious injury or death. If it is rubbed into the eye, it can make the eyes burn. The Center advised parents and adults that if the contents of the pods get in the eye, it should be rinsed immediately with water for 15 minutes and the patient should be brought to a doctor for medical attention.

If it is swallowed, drink a glass of water or milk and contact the Poison Control Center or a doctor immediately.

Response to a satire

WCNC noted that the videos are supposed to be funny, a satirical response to warnings about ingesting the pods which kids jokingly refer to as the forbidden fruit.

However, Dr. Karen Jenkins, the medical director of the Piedmont Medical Center emergency department, pointed out that some kids who ride on the viral trend may not have the comprehension at 13, 14, or 15 years old that eating the pods will have lifelong consequences.

She stressed that it is toxic soap chemicals that teens are putting into their mouths. Even if the kids do not swallow the pods, the concentrated chemicals can cause serious and possibly permanent damage, Jenkins warned. It can cause chemical burns around the mouth, inside the mouth, nausea, and vomiting. The victim can suffer from aspiration, pneumonia, and have breathing problems, she added.

In 2017, there were more than 10,500 reported exposures to highly concentrated laundry detergents by kids aged 5 and younger, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

Tide’s response

Wink News reported that on its part, Tide has been proactive in keeping the pods safe and childproof, and in informing the public. In a statement that the detergent manufacturer issued, Tide said the safety of people who use its product is important to the company. It emphasized that its laundry pacs are highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes, and it has been used safely in millions of households every day. The company emphasized that the product should only be used to clean clothes.

Tide posted a video on YouTube to show how easy it is to keep the pods away from children by keeping the detergent containers closed, sealed, and stored up high and out of reach of children. However, it may still be within reach of teenagers who can easily open the sealed containers.

Aleguas said that parents must explain to their teen children the consequences if they ingest the pods by accident or purposely. He said the extreme symptoms may not show up immediately, but in some cases, it may not be apparent until it happens.

Tide has also made changes to the pods since it was released. It changed the colors so the pods would no longer look like candy. Tide no longer uses see-through containers and made sure that the lids are more child-resistant, WishTV reported.

The pods were first noticed in 2015 when The Onion, a satirical newspaper, came out with a column about a child who wanted to eat the Tide PODS because of the candy-like appearance of its red-and-blue container. In 2017, College Humor posted a video of a man who ingested the entire bowl of pods. While he was being carried off in an ambulance, he was quoted as saying, “I don’t regret it.”

Similar to the cinnamon challenge

Dr. Frank LoVecchio, a health toxicologist, compared the Tide pod challenge to the cinnamon challenge a few years ago. But he said the current dare is far worse because the pods can burn the mouth, lips, breathing tube, feeding tube, and esophagus.

He said besides the throat which can be damaged if the pods are swallowed, the membrane around the throat, when the detergent dissolves, can cause depression of the body’s central nervous system.


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