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Wait! Don't eat that! The real Tide Pod Challenge

When it comes to dumb fads, the Tide Pod Challenge has to be one of the all-time dumbest. Teens and adults have taken to social media to post videos of themselves biting into these brightly colored laundry detergent pods. Why? Who knows? Like I said, the Tide Pod Challenge is simply idiotic. The fact that the news media is covering this trend and having to issue warnings to supposedly semi-intelligent beings informing them they should not ingest laundry detergent is baffling.

Over the last several years, we have seen warnings about keeping the laundry pods away from young children. I get that. Children don’t know any better. But you would think teens and adults would get a clue. The ingredients in these pods are meant to clean clothes. When swallowed, they can burn the mouth, lips, esophagus, and more. According to Banner Health toxicologist, Dr. Frank Lovecchio, the outer membrane that encapsulates the detergent, when dissolved, can cause a person to stop breathing and even slip into a coma.

Okay. So, we all agree, the Tide Pod Challenge is the height of stupidity, right? But what about the accidental poisoning that happens when someone mistakenly assumes the pretty little detergent pods are a type kind of candy? Proctor & Gamble has issued warnings to parents to keep the pods locked up and inaccessible to children. Apparently, not everyone is heeding the warnings. Last year alone, 12,000 calls were made to poison control hotlines because of people eating laundry detergent pods. Let’s face it, we’ve never had to think about putting our laundry detergent under lock and key until recent years.

But there is yet another danger involving these tasty looking detergent pods. It’s not just toddlers and attention-seeking teens that are cause for concern here. There is another demographic you may not have considered. I know I hadn’t. However, if you have a loved one with dementia, you’ll want to read on.

Apparently, as per the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), adults with dementia are at a higher risk than children for being poisoned by laundry detergent pods. I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

Patty Davis, press secretary for the CPSC warned, “Caregivers and children of seniors should be aware that ingestion of the contents of certain liquid laundry packets has led to serious and even tragic incidents.”

Adults with later stages of Alzheimer’s and those with frontotemporal dementia are most at risk. In these types of dementia, the individuals tend to have a compulsion with putting things in their mouths (much like babies and toddlers). Whether they are drawn to the bright colors, or simply hungry and craving a snack, adults with dementia are being poisoned by the toxins in the pods.

Since their introduction to the detergent aisle, the pods have been responsible for at least six elder fatalities, including the death of an 87-year-old Texan named Edith, who was found unresponsive in her home after ingesting two liquid laundry detergent pods. Suffering from dementia, Edith occasionally ate objects she mistook for candy. In this instance, it was a fatal mistake.

A 67-year-old man in Ohio died after chewing on five pods. Similarly, a 78-year-old woman ate some of the pods, dying several weeks later of respiratory failure and chemical pneumonia.

All six of the adults who died were suffering from dementia.

James Dickerson, Ph.D., chief scientific officer at Consumer Reports offered this recommendation: “As a result of this new data from the CPSC highlighting the potential risks of laundry detergent pods to adults with dementia, we are amending our advice and recommending that family members caring for anyone who is cognitively impaired not keep pods in the home.”

Back in 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited exposure to the detergent in the pods was “an emerging public health hazard.” Between then and 2015 alone, over 38,000 people suffered from some type of exposure – ingesting, inhaling, getting it in their eyes, or skin absorption. It makes you wonder why the pods are still on the market. Perhaps it’s the $1.2 billion in sales in just a year’s time. What do you think?

The bottom line? It doesn’t look like the liquid laundry detergent pods are going away any time soon. That means it’s up to us to keep our children, grandchildren, and our senior loved ones safe. Caregivers of all kinds – this is the real Tide Pod Challenge!

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