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Teens are eating laundry detergent pods in hazardous internet challenge

Teens are participating in a dangerous Internet challenge that asks them to eat a laundry pod. (YouTube screenshot)

A dangerous new internet challenge has teens filming themselves while they eat Tide laundry detergent pods. Social media videos show teens gagging and spitting out detergent as they bite into the pods. Other videos show the colorful orange and blue pods cooking in a frying pan and being served up as cereal or a pizza topping.

What are the risks?

Eating a laundry pod is a hazardous stunt that can cause diarrhea, vomiting, a trip to the emergency room, or a poison-induced coma, health experts said in published reports.

Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, told USA Today that swallowing even a small amount of the detergent can create a life-threatening situation. For example, the detergent can burn the esophagus, or it can enter the lungs and cause breathing difficulties.

Accidental ingestion of laundry pods has already caused problems for small children and adults with dementia.

According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers 10,570 children 5 years old and younger were exposed to laundry detergent packets in 2017. That means the product was either ingested, inhaled, or absorbed into the skin or eyes. Not all exposures are poisonings or overdoses, the AAPC states on its website.

Laundry pods also pose a risk to people with dementia, who may mistake the pods for candy, Consumer Reports noted. The federal Consumer Product Safety Commission found that eight people died - six adults with dementia and two young children - from ingesting laundry pods.

Has Tide responded?

In response to the dangerous online stunt, Tide detergent manufacturer Proctor and Gamble issued the following statement:

Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes and they're used safely in millions of households every day. They should be only used to clean clothes and kept up, closed and away from children. They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if it is meant as a joke."

The internet challenge may have been created in response to a 2017 College Humor video "Don't Eat the Laundry Pods," published reports stated.

Other internet challenges have included teens pouring salt in their hands and holding onto ice until it burns, setting themselves ablaze using rubbing alcohol and throwing boiling water on unsuspecting people.

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