Tide Pods have gained a lot of attention of late, and not just because of any stain-fighting ability. You may have heard of the Tide Pod Challenge, or seen some videos posted on social media. If not, it’s a game where people – largely teens and young adults – bite into Tide Pods and spew the packet’s soap out of their mouths.
The viral stunt has left many in an uproar, as experts decried the so-called “Tide Pod Challenge” as a serious health threat.
“This is harmful, those things contain concentrated detergent,” said Teriggi Ciccone, MD, an Emergency Medicine physician at Winchester Hospital, of the Tide Pod Challenge. “They can cause severe chemical burns to the lining of the mouth. Depending where the chemical burn is located, it can affect breathing and swallowing.”
If someone does inhale the pod’s detergent, he or she may be susceptible to permanent burning of the mouth, throat, digestive tract and lung tissue. In extreme circumstances, it can lead to death.
Procter & Gamble, manufacturer of Tide Pods, as well as other companies selling similar laundry detergent packs, have acted to stem the growing misuse of their products. Celebrities, such as New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, have been enlisted to push public service announcements denouncing the pod challenge. Every year, the packs cause about 10,000 injuries – the vast majority of which were accidental but some intentional.
In the meantime, video sharing platform YouTube has cracked down on the Tide Pod Challenge.
But in recent weeks, the #TidePodChallenge, as it is known online, has prompted the American Association of Poison Control Centers to issue an alert.
In the first 15 days of this year, the organization received the same number of calls about “intentional exposures” to laundry packets among teenagers as it did in the whole of 2016.
“A recent trend among teenagers ingesting the packets – and uploading videos to various internet platforms including video-sharing websites, social media, and video blogging platforms – has caused significant concern among poison control centers,” the association said.
The toxic ingredients include the following: Diethylenetriamine pentaacetate (sodium salt), Fatty acid salts, Polyvinyl alcohol, Denatonium benzoate.
For more information on the dangers of the Tide Pod Challenge, speak with your Lahey Health physician.