Local authorities are warning against a new trend among children and teens during which they are filmed consuming Tide Pod products.
Michael Meyers, public information officer with Augusta Fire/EMA, said the department wants to bring awareness to the trend, known as the “Tide Pod Challenge,” which is “very dangerous” for all involved.
“It is our duty to bring awareness of trending dangers in our community, however it sometimes draws more people to the controversy as participants as much as it dissuades people from engaging in it,” he said in a news release. “This is why it’s so important for parents to be mindful of what their children are doing and to make sure little children don’t have access to dangerous chemicals.”
Last week the American Association of Poison Control Centers also warned against dangers of the challenge and reported a “spike in teenagers eating the detergent pods” which causes “seizures, respiratory arrest and even death.”
“So far in 2018 there have been 38 cases (nationally) of teenagers exposed to the detergent capsules and over half of them have proven to be intentional,” Meyers said. “Children who have been exposed to the Tide Pods have been hospitalized with vomiting, breathing difficulties and loss of consciousness.”
Proctor & Gamble Co., a top manufacturer of the pods along with Crest toothpaste and Charmin toilet paper, released a 20-second video of football player Rob Gronkowski telling viewers not to ingest the pods.
“Use Tide Pods for washing, not eating,” he says.
Sites like YouTube have also vowed to flag the videos that contain the challenge and remove them, Meyers said.
“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit content that’s intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm,” the company said in a statement to Fast Company.
“We work quickly to remove flagged videos that violate our policies.”
Fire Chief Christopher James said the department’s main concern is keeping children away from the product.
“This Tide Pod challenge raises different issues for me,” he said. “I am however most concerned about children ingesting the toxics and the possible aspiration that will follow.”