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Tide Pod Challenge poses serious dangers

Teens are eating concentrated laundry detergent pods as part of a social media challenge.

Posted: Jan 16, 2018 6:13 AM
Updated: Jan 16, 2018 1:35 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - It's no secret laundry detergent is meant for cleaning, not for eating. 

But a new social media trend called the 'Tide Pod Challenge' has teens thinking otherwise. 

"Well, that's shocking, but I suppose not that shocking because things like this have gone on before," Robin Ciccotelli, a parent, said. 

For the challenge, teens post videos of themselves eating the concentrated laundry pods. 

Minnesota Poison Control System said nationwide, there's already been 40 calls of kids ages 13-19 eating laundry detergent pods in 2018. They said half of those calls were believed to be intentional eating of the pods. 

They also said the number of intentional pod eating is likely to be higher, saying if symptoms don't seem threatening, the instances go underreported. 

Ciccotelli said if a teen feels pressure to participate in the challenge, reach out. 

"You need to talk to somebody you can trust who's an adult. Whether it's a parent, a grandparent, a school counselor, somebody that you trust," she said. 

Kirk Hughes, the Education Director of Minnesota Poison Control System, said eating these pods can cause second- and third-degree burns in the nose, mouth, and throat. He also said there are reports of the pods causing unresponsiveness or trouble breathing in younger kids. 

Hughes said it's known eating laundry detergent isn't good for a person, but warns there is great uncertainty and not enough research on the dangers of eating such a concentrated form of the detergent.

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