INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – After dozens of warnings from health officials about the dangers of ingesting liquid laundry detergent packets, the viral trend has spiked again.
“Part of our job includes taking care of people who have done something that was not wise on purpose,” said registered nurse and certified specialist in poison Gwenn Christianson.
Christenson answers dozens of calls at the Indiana Poison Center from people who need medical help. She says many people are calling the poison center to seek help after someone had ingested single-load laundry packets. Many are ingesting the chemical as part of a viral social trend called the "Tide Pod Challenge."
“Sometimes they think they are getting high and sometimes it is a dare,” said Christianson.
According to the American Association of Poison Control Centers, there have been 131 cases of intentional exposure since the beginning of 2018. That is more than all of the cases in the last two years combined.
“You can get a whole load of laundry done in a teeny cube. That is because the detergents are extremely concentrated,” said Daniel Rusyniak, the medical director of the Indiana Poison Center.
Ingesting the pods can cause burning and irritation along with seizures, coma, pneumonia, and can make breathing dangerously slow.
“Some of the contents inside of those packets can cause CNS depression. They can make you sleepy. Sleepy to the point that little kids have had to put on ventilators because they were comatose and unable to breathe on their own,” said Rusyniak.
If you or a loved one ingest a liquid laundry detergent packet, call your local poison center. The nurses who answer the phone are trained to coach people through decontaminating at home, but some cases may be so severe they must go to the E.R.
You can contact the Indiana Poison Center at (800)-222-1222.