These are the health risks of consuming Tide pods

Tide pods are not safe for human consumption 

Chelsea Ritschel
in New York
Thursday 18 January 2018 18:59 GMT
Teens film themselves eating laundry detergent in Tide Pod challenge_1

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Despite the numerous warnings from the Tide brand and the American Association of Poison Control Centers of the dangers of munching Tide pods , it appears people have not been listening.

Continuing to consume the gooey colourful laundry detergent pods at an alarming rate for the viral 'Tide Pod Challenge' on social media, people are risking their health, and potentially their lives, for an internet meme.

So what really happens to your body when you consume concentrated laundry detergent?

Detergent - which is used to break up components of waste, is composed of a mixture of synthetic chemicals - and their most important ingredients are surfactants.

Surfactants, long-chain molecules that attach both to water and grease, form “supermolecules” when they are dissolved in water.

Our mouths and digestive systems are full of water - as well as fats. And having these aggressively stripped away from your digestive system is harmful.

However, according to a report by a scientific branch of the European Commission, “in small quantities, surfactants have low oral acute toxicity” and usually just cause an irritating effect on mucous membranes.

But if a higher dose is consumed, the effects can become much more severe.

Tide's Twitter has responded to numerous reports of Tide pod ingestion
Tide's Twitter has responded to numerous reports of Tide pod ingestion

According to the report, “Manifestations may include vomiting, abdominal pain, flatulence, and diarrhoea."

Additionally, “In rare cases, vomiting or formation of considerable amounts of foam in the mouth involve an aspiration risk” - or the risk of becoming unable to breathe properly.

While the more severe risks associated with consuming surfactants are more likely to affect elderly, young children, or those with weakened immune systems, even healthy adults can suffer side effects.

And Tide pods also contain bleach - an oxidizing agent.

When consumed, which it should never be, bleach can cause burns to your digestive tract, which can induce vomiting.

And if the “inflammation of the oesophagus is bad enough, it will narrow the opening, and digestion will be restricted,” according to IFLScience.

In some cases, ingesting the various chemicals in Tide pods have been found to cause “depression of the central nervous system,” resulting in an increased possibility of unconsciousness.

While no one should intentionally bite into or swallow laundry detergent pods, St John Ambulance has released a video demonstrating what to do you if you or someone you know has ingested a Tide pod:

How to treat poisoning: first aid training from St John Ambulance

Reminder: do not consume poison on purpose.

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