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Girl Smarts What is the tide pod challenge — and just how dangerous is it?

It’s called the “Tide pod challenge” and people are biting into the packets, or even cooking them in frying pans, before chewing them up, and squirting soap out of their mouths.

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Tide Pod challenge play

Tide Pod challenge

(Photograph by Getty Images)
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Tide Pods are cute little laundry detergent pouches that you throw in your washing machine to help get your clothes clean. And, for some reason, teenagers have decided that it’s a good idea to eat them—seriously.

It’s called the “Tide pod challenge” and people are biting into the packets, or even cooking them in frying pans, before chewing them up, and squirting soap out of their mouths. Naturally, they’re posting videos of the whole thing on YouTube, which is working frantically to remove them.

No one is really sure who started the Tide pod challenge or why, but everyone is pretty much in agreement that eating laundry detergent packets isn’t a great idea.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission released a warning years ago about how the packets are attractive to young children but are filed with “highly concentrated, toxic detergent” that can cause a host of scary health issues. “Children who have ingested detergent from the packets have required medical attention and hospitalization for loss of consciousness, excessive vomiting, drowsiness, throat swelling, and difficulty breathing,” the warning said.

One college student in Utah was hospitalized on Sunday after eating a Tide pod in her dorm, according to ABC 11. The challenge has also led to a spike in calls to poison control, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

According to the AAPCC data, poison control centers fielded 53 cases of people intentionally eating laundry packets in 2017 and this year alone they’ve already had 39 cases of 13- to 19-year-olds eating them.

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“I think one of the problems here is that people don't realize the consequences of this insane trend and really need to understand the dangers,” says women’s health expert Jennifer Wider, M.D. “There are real health consequences from consuming Tide pods.

The liquid inside the pods is toxic, Wider says, and it can burn the mouth or cause vomiting, breathing problems, loss of consciousness, or even death.

Basically, this is a really bad idea. “With this Tide Pod challenge, the potential harm is real and shouldn't be shrugged off,” Wider says.

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