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Teens consuming laundry detergent pods in viral 'challenge'

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- A new online challenge that involves teens putting Tide laundry-detergent pods in their mouths is raising concerns among experts.

“Teens trying to be funny are now putting themselves in danger by ingesting this dangerous substance,” Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, told ABC News.

The detergent packets are designed to dissolve when wet, so even putting them in one's mouth can be dangerous.

Already in 2018 there has been a steep spike in the number of cases of teens misusing laundry pods. The American Association of Poison Control Centers (AAPCC) said approximately 40 cases have been reported so far, "of which around half were intentionally ingested."

Laundry-detergent packets commonly known as "pods" have been flagged before as a safety issue for young children. The small, colorful pods can be mistaken for candy by children.

In 2017, the AAPCC said there were reports of more than 10,000 exposures to highly-concentrated packets of laundry detergent by children ages 5 and under.

Children who consume pods can quickly become very sick and lose consciousness, according to Dr. Alfred Aleguas, managing director of the Florida Poison Information Center.

Consuming the pods can also be lethal.

"Currently we are aware of about 10 deaths since laundry pods came out into the market many years ago," said Buerkle.

Procter and Gamble, maker of Tide Pods, told ABC News in a statement that the pods “should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is.”

“Nothing is more important to us than the safety of people who use our products,” the statement read. “They should not be played with, whatever the circumstance is, even if meant as a joke.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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