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Wentworth tells its students not to eat those laundry pods

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You might think that college students would be smart enough not to eat laundry detergent. But a reminder about dangerous acts never hurts.

In an e-mail to students Monday, Wentworth Institute of Technology warned them not to participate in the “Tide pod challenge,” a recent social media fad where people ingest the brightly colored packets.

“Please remember — liquid laundry detergent packets are meant to clean clothes, not mouths,” read the e-mail, sent by the university’s wellness education coordinator.

Consumption of single-load packets such as Tide pods can result in seizures, pulmonary edema, respiratory arrest, coma, and even death, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.


Poison centers managed 39 cases of intentional exposure in the first 15 days of 2018, as many cases as they handled during all of 2016.

Proctor & Gamble, the maker of Tide, is working with social media companies to remove videos of people biting into the detergent. Chief executive David Taylor called the trend ‘‘dangerous’’ and ‘‘extremely concerning’’ in an online post Monday. He asked adults to speak with children about the hazards.

‘‘Let them know that their life and health matter more than clicks, views, and likes,’’ Taylor said.

The company released a public service announcement featuring New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski.

Asked “Is eating Tide pods ever a good idea?” Gronkowski responds with an emphatic “no, no, no, no, no, no, no.”

YouTube said it would “work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate our policies.”

Eating toxic detergent is the latest dumb Internet-inspired behavior, including the cinnamon challenge (eating a spoonful of the ground spice in under a minute) and chugging a gallon of milk.

A Wentworth spokesman said the school’s warning to students was “purely proactive, after it was reported that college students at a Colorado-based school had taken part in this peculiar phenomenon.”


Stephanie MacDonald, a Wentworth student, described the Tide-pod trend as “possibly the dumbest thing I’ve heard of, but such is the Internet in 2018.”

“I would hope anyone smart enough to get into WIT would be smart enough to not eat laundry detergent,” she said. “But who knows!”

Material from The Washington Post and the Associated Press was included in this report. Abigail Feldman can be reached at abigail.feldman@globe.com. Alana Levene can be reached at alana.levene@globe.com.