The message may seem harsh or too candid, but it stands true. A new craze that seems to target teens and has gone viral on social media could lead to long-term consequences or even death.
“There was a lot of head shaking, a lot of going ‘what,’ a lot of confusion and going ‘why of all things to put in your mouth.’” That was the initial reaction of Heather Trnka, Injury Prevention Coalition Coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital.
“There are some catastrophic effects that can come from ingesting these laundry pods,” she added.
In this video posted to YouTube by NBC2 News you can see videos of teens participating in this stunt.
The viral videos challenge the individual to bite into the laundry pods and see how long they can keep them in their mouths once the chemicals start foaming.
“The moment that starts to foam, that’s when we start to see the dangers associated with it,” added Trnka. “As soon as the body can absorb it.”
So, what’s in a laundry pod: Polyvinyl alcohol, denatonium benzoate, fatty acid salts, alcoholethoxy sulfate, disodium distyrylbiphenyl disulfonate, mannanase, amylase, subtilisin, diethylenetriamine pentaacetate, sodium salt, calcium formate.
A host of highly-concentrated chemicals that most can’t even pronounce that if ingested, could cause serious harm to the host.
Trnka explained because of the high concentration of so many chemicals, the effects to a person happen very quickly.
“Diarrhea, vomiting, on the easy side,” said Trnka. But she explained the effects can be much worse.
“You also can experience burning of the respiratory tract including all the way down into the lungs, seizures, loss of consciousness, drowsiness, and even death.”
Trnka added effects of ingesting a laundry pod can cause life-long damage.
“They’re not able to speak, they’re having to go to the hospital, they’re having to have a tube in their throat to help them breathe,” said Trnka. “Those are long-term, lasting effects that will affect them for the rest of their lives.”
In 2017 10 people across the US have died as a result of ingesting a laundry pod. Those deaths included 6 adults suffering cognitive impairments such as dementia, Alzheimer’s etc. The other 4 incidents involved children under the age of 5.
No fatal cases have been reported in Ohio.
However, Trnka noted in the first two weeks of 2018 Poison control has received 40 cases nationwide of kids suffering the effects of ingesting laundry pods ages 13-19.
Once she moved past the initial shock and disbelief that this was occurring, considering the extreme danger, Trnka tackled the next issue at hand: How do we stop it?
She suggested that parents and guardians and even peers can take this opportunity to talk with those who may at risk of participating in the dare.
“Say, hey you know, I saw this online. I want to talk to you really about how dangerous it is,” explained Trnka.
“It’s stupid don’t do it,” she added.
But, the viral challenge continues to spread. Not only that, Trnka said they are seeing donut shops decorating pastries to look like laundry pods.
“Don’t purchase those. That’s a really confusing message,” she noted.
She recommended that parents and guardians of children, of any age, that use laundry pods consider storing them in a secure location.
But, she acknowledged that despite a parent’s best efforts it still may happen.
She explained the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, the American Association of Poison Control Centers and Tide all came together to give one clear message.
“First and foremost, don’t do it. Second, if someone is exposed we want to make sure that you call 911, call the Poison Control Center, drink a glass of water or glass of milk and do not induce vomiting.”
You can contact the Poison Control number by calling 1-800-222-1222 or by texting POISON to 797979.
Michaela Madison Reporting