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Kids Are Still Doing the Tide Pod Challenge and They’re Still Getting Sick

Better packaging of laundry pods has helped, but way more can be done to keep kids safe.

Flickr/Mike Mozart

A new study from the journal Pediatrics shows that, while the internet may have mostly forgotten about the Tide Pod challenge, liquid laundry detergent packet exposure continues to harm thousands of kids every year.

Using the National Poison Data System — the data warehouse for the 55 poison control centers across the country — researchers found that between January 2012 and December 2017 people called in 72,947 exposures to liquid laundry detergent packets. Nearly 92 percent of those exposures happened to children under six.

The number and rate of incidents among these young children more than doubled between 2012 and 2015 before what the researchers characterize as a modest decrease of 18 percent from 2015 to 2017. A similar trend was also seen in hospital admissions data for kids under six.

While it’s difficult to prove for certain, at least part of the improvement in the statistics is likely due to voluntary safety standards released by ASTM International, measures like warning labels and opaque packaging 1hat’s less appealing to kids.

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In an interview with HuffPost, study author Dr. Gary A. Smith, a professor of pediatrics, emergency medicine, and epidemiology at The Ohio State University says not enough is being done to keep kids safe. Smith says that companies that make laundry pods should be required to make their packaging compliant with the Poison Prevent Packaging Act, a 1970 law that required childproof closures on potentially toxic products.

Still, Smith acknowledges that more stringent packaging standards won’t be enough to keep every kid safe from liquid laundry detergent packets.

“In the time it takes to move a shirt from the washer to the dryer, a child can ingest a dangerous dose of laundry detergent from a packet. … Parents simply cannot watch their child every second of the day,” he told HuffPost.

“We have safer alternatives to laundry detergent packets ― we’ve used them for decades,” Smith continued. “There’s absolutely no reason why we should
see children being rushed to hospitals in comas, having seizures, or even dying due to this product.”