Health officials: Don't eat Tide Pods

Krystle Wagner • Jan 26, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Following a popular social media challenge, health officials are encouraging residents to not ingest laundry soap packets.

The “Tide Pod Challenge” has popped up on social media in recent weeks.

According to a press release from the American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC), 86 intentional exposure cases in the ages 13-19 demographic were handled by poison control centers in just the first three weeks of 2018. The AAPCC handled 53 such cases all of last year and 39 in 2016.

Three cases related to the Tide Pod Challenge have been handled by the Michigan Regional Poison Control Center so far this month, according to the center’s medical director, Dr. Cynthia Aaron.

While the emergency department at North Ottawa Community Hospital hasn’t treated any related cases, health officials are using the publicity as an opportunity to reach out to parents.

“We have all seen recent headlines and posts on social media about ‘Tide Pod Challenges,’” said Michele Laurino, the Grand Haven hospital’s emergency department manager and trauma program coordinator. “They could be easily dismissed, or chalked up to just a new twist on typical teen antics. ... We see this as an opportunity to remind parents that this type of attention-seeking behavior can turn very dangerous, very quickly.”

Laurino said they are encouraging parents to speak with their children “about making good choices,” and reminding them that fame on social media isn’t worth the risk of a permanent medical condition or death.

Side effects of ingesting Tide Pods include seizures, respiratory arrest, pulmonary edema, coma and death, according to the AAPCC. Aaron said side effects could also include vomiting and injury to the esophagus and stomach.

In a press release, AAPCC Executive Director Stephen Kaminski said they can’t stress enough the health dangers posed by ingesting laundry soap.

“If you or a loved one misuses a laundry packet, or has a question about the risk of exposure to one, immediately contact the national Poison Help hotline at 1-800-222-1222, or text ‘poison’ to 797979 to save the number in your phone,” Kaminski said. “Our poison control experts are available 24/7 and free of charge.”

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