Pod Challenge: Teens are putting detergent pods in their
mouth and posting videos online
Challenge: Teens are putting detergent pods in their mouth
and posting videos online
As part of a dangerous new online challenge, teens are putting laundry pods in their mouth.
It all started as jokes. The lure of Tide Pods, which look almost like candy, broke into satirical conversations as early as 2015 when The Onion published column from the perspective of a child who wanted to eat a blue and red detergent pod. This followed numerous reports pods were getting into the hands of curious toddlers, which can cause serious harm.
In 2017, poison control centers received reports of more than 10,500 exposures to highly concentrated packed of laundry detergent by children 5 and younger, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
A March 2017 video likely generated the biggest conversation about students eating pods. In College Humors Dont Eat The Laundry Pods video, viewers see a college student tempted to eat Tide Pods. After researching how toxic the pods are, he still ends up gorging on a bowl full of pods. The video ends with the student saying he doesnt regret it on an emergency backboard. Ideas, and even dares about eating the pods followed on Reddit and Twitter.
Now, videos of teens putting Tide Pods in their mouth and even cooking with them are making the rounds online as part of the "Tide Pod Challenge."
Many know the pods pose serious health risk for children and nonprofit Consumer Reports has also pointed out lethal risks for adults with dementia. Healthy teens or adults who eat or even bite into the pods could also experience symptoms.
Dr. Alfred Aleguas Jr., managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, said if someone mimicked the College Humor video, they could find themselves in a "life-threatening" situation. Swallowing even a small amount of the highly-concentrated detergent found in pods (which can happen if people bite it and spit contents out), can cause diarrhea and vomiting. In some cases, some of the detergent could even find its way into the lungs and cause breathing difficulties.
While some teens might not have extreme symptoms, the health risk won't be apparent until it happens. Aleguas said he's seen situations where people who don't know they have underlying medical conditions try a stunt like this and must be rushed to a hospital.
"Ending up in the emergency room is no joke," he said.
Tide has a page on its website dedicated to safe handling of its products, advising consumers to drink a glass of water or milk if a product is swallowed and call for help. If you or someone you know has eaten a laundry detergent pod, call the national poison help hotline at 1-800-222-1222 or text POISON to 797979 to save the number in your phone.
Our laundry pacs are a highly
concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes
should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is,
even if meant as a joke, Tide said in a statement.
The 'cinnamon challenge' dare results in choking, gagging, and a burning sensation
Animal studies suggest other, long-term health consequences are possible
Consumed in standard amounts to flavor food, cinnamon is not a problem for most people
A decades-old stunt in which thrill-seeking teens swallow a tablespoon of dry cinnamon with no water, gag and spew out a cloud of orange dust went viral in 2012, resulting in more than 50,000 YouTube video clips of young people attempting the so-called "cinnamon challenge."
Although the immediate physical effects -- coughing, choking and burning of the mouth, nose, and throat -- are temporary in most cases, attempts to swallow a large quantity of the dry spice may result in "long-lasting lesions, scarring and inflammation of the airway" or even lung damage, says a new research paper examining the dare.
Nationwide, at least 30 cases last year stemming from the challenge required medical attention, in 2012, including ventilator support for some teens who suffered collapsed lungs, says the paper, in the April issue of Pediatrics, published online today.
The American Association of Poison Control Centers, which issued an a March 2012 alert about the dare, reported 222 cinnamon-related exposures in 2012, up from 51 in 2011. So far this year, 20 exposures were reported from between Jan. 1 and Mar. 31.
For teens and young adults with underlying lung diseases such as asthma, ingesting large quantities of dry cinnamon has the potential to pose significant and unnecessary health risks, says study author Steven Lipshultz, professor of pediatrics at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. "It could really put them in a bad way," he says.
Although there are no human studies of cinnamon inhalation, in animal studies the lungs almost immediately become inflamed after a single exposure and still show signs of damage weeks, even months later, says Lipshultz. "In humans, that would be the equivalent of an elderly person developing emphysema and needing oxygen."
The report notes that cinnamon is a caustic powder composed of cellulose fibers that don't dissolve or biodegrade in the lungs. It also contains an oil that produces allergic, irritant or toxic reactions in some people.
Consumed in small amounts or mixed with other foods, cinnamon does not cause problems for most people, says Lipshultz.
Although the "cinnamon challenge" is
not the rage it was a year ago, new videos posted online
suggest its allure "hasn't died off," he says, adding that
the University of Miami research team is aware of other
potentially dangerous online dares, including the "condom
challenge," in which participants snort a condom up their
nose and pull it out of their mouth.
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