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'Tide Pod Challenge:' Latest social media fad encourages teens to consume laundry detergent for views

Teens and young adults are participating in a challenge that consists of putting detergent pods in their mouths.

What started out as a joke on the internet has now become a major health concern among teenagers and young adults in the United States.

Primarily seen on social media sites like Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, the "Tide Pod Challenge" has rapidly grown as the latest fad among teens and young adults looking for an easy way to get views. The challenge consists of an individual putting one or more detergent pods in their mouth.

The case that supports the detergent is made of material that dissolves when wet. However, many who participate in the challenge on video choose to bite into the pods, causing the detergent to explode into their mouths. Some even choose to cook the pods, boiling them in water and even placing them on top of pizza.

Ingredients in the pods include ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and polymers--a highly toxic mix of detergent meant to wipe out dirt and grime, according to a CBS News report.

In 2012 through 2015, the popular detergent pods were the subject of controversy for parents of toddlers and smaller children. According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, more than 33,000 calls--about 30 children per day--pertained to incidents involving liquid laundry packets during the three-year span.

The pods are bright and colorful, causing some children to believe they are candy. At least 10 deaths have been linked to ingesting detergent pods, according to the CBS News report. Two of those deaths were toddlers and eight were seniors with dementia.

According to a doctor with the Florida Poison Information Center, any amount of detergent from the pods that is swallowed can lead to diarrhea and vomiting, and, in extreme cases, can be "life-threatening."

Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide products, says that the pods "should not be played with ... even if meant as a joke" and that safety is "no laughing matter."

Marc Pagan, 19, told CBS News he consumed a pod on a dare but knew the detergent was not meant to be eaten.

"A lot of people were just saying how stupid I was or how--why would I be willing to do that," Pagan said. "No one should be putting anything like that in their mouths, you know?"

Ross Torgerson

Digital Reporter for Forum Communications. Native of Moorhead, Minn. Have a question or story idea? Email me at Follow me on Twitter @RossTorgerson