The American Association of Poison Control Centers is reporting a spike in calls following the recent viral videos posted called the "Tide Pod Challenge." In such videos, teens or even young adults are seen biting into the colorful laundry detergent packets. Videos then show the victims coughing, gaging or even foaming at the mouth after taking the "challenge."
Officials with the AAPC say they have seen a dramatic increase in calls following the viral posts. Poison control centers have received 39 calls in the last month alone, the same number they received in all of 2016, according to the association.
Dr. Salim Surani says calls at emergency rooms across the Coastal Bend have seen a spike as well.
"We used to only see calls with younger kids because it looks like a toy and they try to put it in their mouths. But now what we are seeing is the teenagers, and to do that challenge, that's very dangerous."
Over the past five years, poison control centers have handled over 50,000 calls involving kids under the age of five accidentally ingesting the colorful packets. But since 2016, teenagers between the age of 13 and 19-years old have been responsible for more than 130 intentional exposures according to the AAPC.
According to Dr. Surani, the ingredients used to create detergent pods similar to Tide are a potent toxin known as a three-in-one. The three-in-one components, known to clean over 900 different stain combinations, are explained here on the Tide website.
Dr. Surani says if you do find yourself exposed to the pods you could experience nausea, eye irritation, and even filling of the lungs if taken in large amounts. "This dare thing is not a dare, I think it's called stupidity. They need to come up with a package that is less attractive."
If someone were to ingest a detergent pod doctors could be forced to pump a patients stomach or even activated charcoal. In the emergency room, the black powder is mixed with a liquid and given to a poisoned patient to drink to adsorb drugs or chemicals inside the stomach, as explained here on the National Poison Center's website.
Health experts across the nation are advising all parents to speak with their children about the dangers of viral online challenges.