Is the Tide Pod Challenge for real?
Many people believe the fad is exaggerated and something of a hoax, but there also been a number of deaths and hospitalizations. What exactly is behind this strange craze? Here are some things you need to be aware of.
- In the first half of January, poison control centers in the United States handled 39 cases of intentional Tide Pod ingestion.
- Young people have been posting viral videos of themselves supposedly consuming the pods. (Facebook and Youtube have since promised to remove these videos). As one college student, Donald Ray Corwin, explains “I look at [the social media] memes every day; they can be very fun, but they can also be very harmful.”
- Many digital users are attracting widespread attention by doctoring product photos, concocting fake recipes and showing foods supposedly made with Tide laundry pods (see below). Virtually all of these appear to be intended to be humorous.
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Undoubtedly, for many people, the mania surrounding fad is simply an opportunity to engage in some dark humor.
Why Tide Pods are so dangerousPublic health officials remain deeply concerned about the whole fad. Last year, poison control centers reported that they received 10,571 claims of children five years or younger that had some sort of adverse exposure incident with the pods.
The chemicals in the laundry pods contain chemicals that can cause severe burns to the mouth, the esophagus, the stomach and the respiratory tract.
Other health issues ingesting the pods can cause include:
- Immediate damage to tissues in the nose, mouth and eyes
- Long-term injury to the lungs
- Kidney damage
- Severe gastrointestinal problems
- Sudden changes in blood pressure
- Neurological issues (including loss of consciousness)
How did this craze get started?No one knows how the Tide pod challenge got started. However, shortly after the product was introduced, in 2012, Senator Chuck Schumer, of New York, said “I don’t know why they make them look so delicious.”
Almost immediately, health concerns began to mount as a number of young children began inadvertently biting into them because they mistakenly believed the pods were candy. Within a matter of months, consumer safety agencies felt compelled to alert families to the dangers these products could cause if misused.
The hazards of kids eating detergent pods hardly seems like a laughing matter or the stuff for comedic fodder. But 2015, The Onion (a satirical online magazine) published a humorous op-ed, supposedly from the perspective of a toddler, in which the author promised to eat those “multi-colored detergent pods.” No one can really say if this article played a role in the development of the current craze. We may not know the origin but we do know that craziness is contagious. Maybe Trump supporters eat Tide pods. That would explain a lot.
In the event of an emergency or toxicity concerns, the American Association of Poison Control Centers has a hotline, 1-800-222-1222. The agency’s experts are on hand to answer your questions. You can also text “poison” to 797979.