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Safety Experts Warn About So-Called 'Tide Pod Challenge' On Social Media

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Safety experts are warning about a dangerous social media challenge involving teenagers.

They're popping detergent pods in the mouths and then posting the videos online.

Many of the social media videos are recorded and posted by minors. They're putting the poisonous laundry pods in their mouths for clicks and internet fame.

They call it the "Tide Pod Challenge."

Marc Pagan, 19, did it on a dare. He told CBS2 he knew better but did it anyway.

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

Now authorities say what started as an internet joke has gone too far.

"On Instagram especially and Snapchat, to eat Tide Pods," one high school student told CBS2's Jessica Layton.

"I've seen them mainly on Youtube," another added.

"Just really weird. It's disgusting," said one girl.

Ann Marie Buerkle, acting chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, says ingesting any of the liquid carries a deadly risk. The poisonous pods contain ethanol, hydrogen peroxide and polymers, Layton reported.

Some stores have started putting them inside display cases so they don't get stolen. The pods are bright and colorful and to children, they can look like candy.

This year, there's already been a 20 percent spike in calls to poison control centers from teens exposed to the laundry pods. At least 10 deaths have been linked to ingesting the pods. Two were toddlers, eight were seniors with dementia.

Procter & Gamble, the maker of Tide products, told CBS News, "They should not be played with… even if meant as a joke. Safety is no laughing matter."

"I could cause a corrosion injury, it could cause basically an ulceration or bleeding. The other issue is if it goes down your windpipe, it could cause difficulty breathing," said Dr. Robert Glatter, of Lenox Hill Hospital.

Buerkle says her group has worked with manufacturers to make the packets less attractive to children.

"Making that laundry packet opaque, less attractive, less colorful," she said. "Reducing the toxicity and the strength of laundry detergents."

"They need to learn from parents and teachers that stunts like this can land them in the hospital, ICU, and it can be deadly," said Glatter.

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