Utah sees 14 hospitalizations from laundry detergent ingestion, some tied to ‘Tide Pod Challenge’

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In the first three weeks of 2018, Utah residents have reported 14 cases of toxicity from ingesting laundry detergent pods, some of which are connected to the so-called, “Tide Pod Challenge.”

The Utah Poison Control Center said people across the U.S continue to take part in the challenge, filming themselves while biting into Tide laundry detergent pods.

“This is sort of a disturbing trend that started out as a satirical joke,” said Dr. Zane Horowitz with the Utah Poison Control Center.

But the challenge isn’t a joke. In Utah so far this year, the poison control center has seen 14 cases of poisoning related to laundry detergent pods. Many of those cases involved kids accidentally eating them, but some of those cases were teens taking part in the challenge.

“It looks like candy, it looks like something fun to do when kids are bored,” said Dr. Dean Mayer, the medical director at Riverton Hospital.

“It may look like it’s benign because it cleans your clothes; it doesn’t clean your system," Mayer said. "It’s very toxic and it’s going to be dangerous."

While many of us have only recently heard about the challenge, it isn’t new.

The poison control center said nationwide, there were 39 cases in 2016 and 53 in 2017. Just in the first three weeks of 2018, there have been 39 incidents related to the so-called “Tide Pod Challenge" nationwide.

“It was taken one step too far, people put these in their mouths to see what would happen… we’re learning what could happen is that some of these people could end up in the hospital,” Horowitz said.

Tide’s stance on the challenge has been simple, Tide pods are for washing your clothes, not eating.

YouTube announced they will remove all videos of people taking part in the challenge, but it remains a concern for some doctors.

“We will see more and more kids, young kids, at danger and we’re going to see them in the emergency department and well see them up here in our ICU setting in a potentially fatal and life-threatening situation,” Mayer said.

If you have ingested a toxic substance, seek medical attention.

For information and 24/7 poison help, call the Utah Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.