The American Association of Poison Control Centers has issued a “high alert” in response to a sharp rise in the numbers of teenagers eating Tide laundry detergent pods.
In the first two weeks of 2018, poison control centers fielded 39 cases of intentional exposure, jumping to 47 in the third week, according to a release from the group. That led to a total of 86 cases so far this year. The cases have all involved teenagers aged 13 to 19.
The increase is likely due to the “Tide Pod challenge," a dangerous viral trend in which teenagers bite into or eat the laundry pods and record themselves for social media.
Stephen Kaminski, CEO and executive director of the association, warned in a release against the dangers of ingesting the pods. Those dangers include seizures, pulmonary edema, coma or death.
“Since our first alert to this life-threatening activity, the trend of intentionally ingesting single-load laundry packets has increased in its popularity despite repeated warnings,” Kaminski said. “We cannot stress enough how dangerous this is to the health of individuals.”
The group originally issued an alert about the pods on Jan. 16, but intensified the warning to “high alert” earlier this week.
In the first release, the association noted that poison control centers have dealt with more than 50,000 calls related to laundry pod consumption, but that the majority have been for children age 5 and under.
“The ‘laundry packet challenge’ is neither funny nor without serious health implications,” Kaminski said in the first alert.
YouTube and Facebook announced earlier this month that they would remove videos of people eating Tide Pods in an effort to deter others.