A troubling trend involving Tide-brand laundry pods is sweeping social media. Teens are reportedly posting videos of themselves popping the pods in their mouths in order to participate in the "Tide Pod Challenge." Given that the pods are made with ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, and polymers, the fad is troubling and toxic.
Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, tells USA Today that ingesting the chemicals in the pods could lead to a "life-threatening" situation, as swallowing even a small amount of the detergent can cause diarrhea and vomiting. It may also end up in the lungs and trigger breathing difficulties.
Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, spoke with CBS and reiterated that there's a fatal risk involved with the Challenge. "This is what started out as a joke on the internet and now it's just gone too far," she explained.
So far, accidental ingestion of the pods, which due to their colorful design could be mistaken for a teething toy or candy, has lead to 10 deaths -- two toddlers and eight seniors with dementia.
Tragedies like these, as well as the fact that more than 62,000 kids under the age of six were exposed to laundry and dishwasher detergents between 2013-2014 compelled Consumer Reports to declare in 2015 that they would no longer recommend the pods “until the adoption of tougher safety measures leads to a meaningful drop in injuries.”
Certain safety measures that the Consumer Product Safety Commission has been working on, according to Buerkle: "Making that laundry packet opaque, less attractive, less colorful, reducing the toxicity and the strength of laundry detergent."
We can only hope that these and various other safety measures are implemented before more lives are put at risk.
Since the Tide Pod Challenge has gained media attention, retailers of the product such as Walmart, Walgreens, Ralph’s, and Food 4 Less have locked the detergent up in plastic boxes while on the shelves—now giving Tide Pods the name “the forbidden fruit.” According to Mashable, a Procter & Gamble spokesperson announced that locking up the Tide Pods is each individual store's choice.
y’all really joked around so much that tide put their tide pods in plastic boxes...smh pic.twitter.com/Z44efALcX5
— ㅤnavid (@NavidHasan_) January 13, 2018
In other efforts to warn kids of the dangers of the Tide Pod Challenge, Tide has released a PSA on Twitter featuring football star Rob Gronkowski firmly reiterating not to eat the detergent.
What should Tide PODs be used for? DOING LAUNDRY. Nothing else.
— Tide (@tide) January 12, 2018
The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has also released PSA’s on social media with the message, “HUMAN PEOPLE UNITED AGAINST EATING LAUNDRY PODS.”
— US Consumer Product Safety Commission (@USCPSC) January 13, 2018
In the meantime, Tide is directing consumers to its website dedicated to safe handling of its products, advising consumers to drink a glass of water or milk if a product is swallowed and call for help. 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. The Procter & Gamble-owned company also said in a statement: “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."