Teens are placing their health in jeopardy by ingesting toxic laundry detergent pacs in the Tide Pod Challenge as social media spreads the message that "all the cool people are doing it." This trend can cause chemical burns, central nervous system reactions and other serious personal injuries that could result in wrongful deaths.
The Toxic Dangers
Laundry detergent contains chemicals including ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, and polymers that can burn the sensitive mucous membranes in the mouth and esophagus. These chemicals can cause diarrhea, depress the central nervous system, and create considerable difficulty breathing. In some cases, the exposure can be lethal.
Children at Greatest Risk
Poison control centers across the country received an excess of 10,500 calls related to laundry detergent pods in 2017. In 2013 and 2014, there were more than 62,000 confirmed exposures to toxic laundry detergent in children under the age of 6. This prompted the manufacturers of these pods to change the design and coloring to make them less appealing to children who were often mistaking them for toys or candy.
Teens facing peer pressure are at considerable risk for engaging in the "Tide Pod Challenge." The idea of doing something dangerous and risky in the quest for social media accolades and social acceptance from their friends has a strong appeal to this demographic. However, to date, ten deaths have been linked to the ingestion of Tide Pods and other laundry detergent pods. The majority of these were young children or elderly adults suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's, however, given the reach of social media and the number of people engaging in this challenge, this number has the potential to climb significantly higher.
Mitigating the Danger
Parents of young children and caregivers of elderly adults suffering from dementia should avoid laundry detergent pods altogether. Parents of teens should discuss the ingredients contained within laundry detergents and the dangers that can occur when ingesting toxic substances. Parents should not shy away from the potentially life-changing risks that come when seeking social media fame via fads that can cause serious personal injuries and have potentially deadly consequences. This advice holds true for other potentially dangerous challenges including the "salt and ice challenge" and other similar modern-day dares that are spread via social media.