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Human Interest

Health Experts Issue Warnings About the Potentially Deadly 'Tide Pod Challenge'

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Health experts are warning against a potentially deadly social media craze called “The Tide Pod Challenge,” in which participants film themselves biting into the soap-filled capsules.

“This is what started out as a joke on the Internet and now it’s just gone too far,” Ann Marie Buerkle, with the Consumer Product Safety Commission told CBS News.

In recent months, the challenge has been on the rise among teens who are eating Tide Pods —tiny, laundry detergent pouches— in the name of fun. Biting into the detergent capsules has become so popular that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was forced to tweet out a warning: “Please don’t eat laundry pods.”

Earlier this month, Tide officials wrote on Twitter that eating Tide Pods “is a BAD IDEA” —”What should Tide PODs be used for? DOING LAUNDRY. Nothing else,” officials wrote in the tweet.

In a statement to TIME, a Tide spokesperson said the company is “deeply concerned” about the challenge and is working with social media networks to remove content that promotes eating the capsules.

In several videos posted online, people are shown popping the pods into their mouths and even chewing on them. Some people have been shown foaming at the mouth and suffering uncontrollable coughs after the stunt, according to ABC News. And CBS reports that at least 10 deaths have been linked to ingesting the pods.

The exact number of deaths related to the Tide Pod Challenge is difficult to estimate. Accidental poisonings among young children and people suffering from dementia have been reported in recent years. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported eight deaths related to laundry detergent pod ingestion since the products hit the market in 2012, through mid-2017.

Pat Sullivan/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Among the many potentially harmful ingredients used in the pods is a chemical called 1.4 Dioxane, according to ABC. Exposure to the chemical could cause lung damage, kidney problems, and nose and eye irritation.

“Laundry pacs are made to clean clothes,” a Tide spokesperson told ABC. “They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance, even if meant as a joke.”

Officials have long been concerned about small children ingesting the pods by accident, and now, teens chewing on the capsules on purpose has only added to the concerns.

Marc Pagan, 19, told CBS that he knew better than to eat the soap-filled pod, but decided to do it on a dare.

“A lot of people were just saying how stupid I was or how – why would I be willing to do that,” he told the site. “No one should be putting anything like that in their mouths, you know?”