The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued a warning about a rising fad in social media known as the “Tide Pod Challenge,” in which teenagers record videos of themselves eating detergent pods.
Manufacturers have addressed the risk of toddlers mistakenly ingesting detergent pods — which include ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and polymers — a highly-toxic mix of detergent meant to wash out dirt and stains. Now teens are purposely eating pods and posting videos of their experiences online.
In an interview with CBS News, Marc Pagan, 19, who ate a Tide pod in response to a dare, said he knew better, but did it anyway.
“A lot of people were just saying how stupid I was or how — why would I be willing to do that,” he said. “No one should be putting anything like that in their mouths, you know?”
Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the CPSC, said that those who ingest any of the liquid contained in the pods are risking death.
“This is what started out as a joke on the internet and now it’s just gone too far,” Buerkle said.
At least 10 deaths have been linked to ingesting detergent pods — two were toddlers, and eight were senior adults who were suffering from dementia.
Procter & Gamble, the manufacturer of Tide products, issued a statement regarding the pods, saying, “They should not be played with… Even if meant as a joke. Safety is no laughing matter.”
In 2013 and 2014, more than 62,000 children under the age of six were exposed to laundry and dishwasher detergents, prompting Consumer Reports to announce in 2015 that it would no longer recommend detergent packets, citing “the unique risks” and urging the “adoption of tougher safety measures.”
Buerkle said that the CPSC has worked with manufacturers to make the detergent pods less appealing to children by “Making that laundry packet opaque, less attractive, less colorful, reducing the toxicity and the strength of laundry detergent.”