Teens are dar­ing each other to eat Tide pods — bad idea

Houston Chronicle Sunday - - HEALTH | SCIENCE - By Lind­sey Bever

First, it was the “gal­lon chal­lenge” and the “cin­na­mon chal­lenge.”

Then some teenagers started play­ing the “bath­salt chal­lenge.”

They have dared each other to pour salt in their hands and hold ice till it burns, douse them­selves in rub­bing al­co­hol and set them­selves ablaze, and throw boil­ing wa­ter on un­sus­pect­ing peers.

Now videos cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia are show­ing kids bit­ing into brightly col­ored liq­uid laun­dry de­ter­gent pack­ets. Or cook­ing them in fry­ing pans, then chew­ing them up be­fore spew­ing the soap from their mouths.

Ex­perts say the game, dubbed the “Tide pod chal­lenge,” is dan­ger­ous.

“A lot of peo­ple were just say­ing how stupid I was or how — why would I be will­ing to do that?” 19-year-old Marc Pa­gan, who said he was dared to do it, told CBS News this week. “No one should be putting any­thing like that in their mouths, you know?”

It’s not cer­tain how the fad got started.

The U.S. Con­sumer Prod­uct Safety Com­mis­sion is­sued a warn­ing to par­ents sev­eral years ago about the liq­uid laun­dry de­ter­gent pack­ets. The agency said the cap­sules — which are col­or­ful, squishy and smell good — are at­trac­tive to young chil­dren but con­tain “highly con­cen­trated, toxic de­ter­gent” that can cause harm.

In 2015, The Onion pub­lished a satir­i­cal op-ed from the per­spec­tive of a tod­dler who wanted to eat them.

At some point, the pods be­came al­lur­ing to older chil­dren. Last year, Col­lege Hu­mor pub­lished a video ti­tled “Don’t Eat the Laun­dry Pods. (Se­ri­ously. They’re Poi­son.)” It showed a col­lege stu­dent re­search­ing the dan­gers as­so­ci­ated with ex­po­sure to the pack­ets, then de­vour­ing them. He ended up on an am­bu­lance stretcher.

One ex­pert con­ceded that young chil­dren are in­clined to ex­plore but was sur­prised at the num­ber of older chil­dren and teenagers who are putting the pack­ets in their mouths.

Last year, U.S. poi­son con­trol cen­ters re­ceived re­ports of more than 10,500 chil­dren younger than 5 who were ex­posed to the cap­sules.

The same year, nearly 220 teens were re­port­edly ex­posed, and about 25 per­cent of those cases were in­ten­tional, ac­cord­ing to data from the Amer­i­can As­so­ci­a­tion of Poi­son Con­trol Cen­ters.

So far in 2018, there have been 37 re­ported cases among teenagers — half of them in­ten­tional, ac­cord­ing to the data.

“You’re really tak­ing a chance — and to what end?” Al­fred Aleguas, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Florida Poi­son In­for­ma­tion Cen­ter in Tampa, told the Wash­ing­ton Post. “It’s pretty fool­ish be­hav­ior.”

To re­port ex­po­sure to laun­dry de­ter­gent pods, call the na­tional poi­son hot­line at 1-800-222-1222 or text POI­SON to 797979 to save the num­ber in your phone.

As­so­ci­ated Press file

A warn­ing la­bel is at­tached to a pack­age of Tide de­ter­gent pack­ets. So far in 2018, there have been 37 re­ported cases of teens eat­ing them, half in­ten­tional.

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