January 18, 2018

(Des Moines Register / Aaron Young)

A dangerous new trend called 'Tide Pod Challenge' is becoming popular on social media, but doctors say it could land them in the emergency room. USA TODAY

Laundry detergent pods are meant to go in a washing machine, not your mouth. Seems like a no-brainer, right?

Well, the American Association of Poison Control Centers is warning everyone about the dangers of using single-load laundry packets other than as instructed.

A dangerous new online challenge called the "Tide Pod Challenge" has lured teens and adults into participating, resulting in serious health implications like seizures, respiratory arrest and even death, per a news release from AAPCC.

“Everyone needs to be aware of the dangers of swallowing the contents of a single-load laundry packet," Stephen Kaminski, CEO and executive director of AAPCC, said in the release. "Only use the packets for their intended use and be sure to store them up and away."

According to the Sioux City Journal, the Iowa Poison Control Center — based in Sioux City — received its first laundry pod-related (intentional misuse) call of the new year on Jan. 11.  By Jan. 15, though, the center was up to five calls — one more (intentional misuse) call the center had received throughout all of 2017, the Sioux City Journal reported.  "We're trying to remind people that putting poison in your mouth is not really the smartest thing to do," Tammy Noble, a registered nurse and education coordinator for the Iowa Poison Control Center, told the newspaper.

Challenge videos have circulated recently on social media and YouTube. In a statement, the Google-based video streaming service said it would be cracking down on such videos as it prohibits content that encourages activities that have a risk of causing physical harm.

"Videos showing people participating in the Tide Pod challenge are removed from YouTube when flagged and the channel is given a strike for violating our Community Guidelines, which prohibit harmful or dangerous content," the company said.

Last week, Tide tweeted a video starring New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski discouraging the act.

"Our laundry pacs are a highly concentrated detergent meant to clean clothes," Tide said in a statement. "They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if meant as a joke."

During the past five years, however, AAPCC says poison control centers across the country have received well over 50,000 calls relating to liquid laundry packet exposures.

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.

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