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1/15/18blog post

what is the tide pod challenge?

why you need to talk to your older kids today about this dangerous activity

I can’t really believe that I’m blogging about telling teenagers not to eat Tide Pods, but I am!

What started out as a joke on The Onion, a satirical news organization, has now become a YouTube craze as teens taking the “Tide Pod Challenge.” Teens are posting videos of themselves chewing and gagging on the small, colorful “candy like” detergent pods and daring other to join the challenge. The challenge has dangerous consequences.

The detergent pod contain ethanol, polymers and hydrogen peroxide which are extremely toxic. The pods are more concentrated than regular laundry detergent making their impact more severe.

This isn’t the first time that we’ve warned about tide pods.  They are often mistaken for candy by little children – we call them a “pretty poison.” Thousands of children across the country have been poisoned by detergent pods.  The American Association of Poison Control Centers was receiving reports back as far as 2012 about laundry pod exposures in children five years and younger. In 2017, over 10,000 children and 200 teenagers reported exposure. This year so far, there have been at least 37 reported exposures among teenagers, half of them intentional.

At Dayton Children’s we have seen cases where the pods exploded resulting in serious chemical burns. We see about 200 unintentional ingestions each year, with about 95 percent of them impacting children younger than 8 years old.  We also see about 220 intentional ingestions each year with 100 percent of them being by children 9 years old and older. These numbers include all ingestions such as alcohol, medications and button batteries. 

For younger children, it’s important to keep poisons up high and locked away as they do not know how dangerous these pretty poisons can be.  For our older children, keeping poisons locked away is equally important but also talking with them about the dangers of these internet challenges is imperative. 

Jessica Saunders

director, Office of Community Health and Engagement Programs
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