Kids, listen up. Parents, you too. I guess it needs to be said… DON’T DRINK BLEACH!
That includes the trending “Miracle Mineral Solution” – MMS. I Repeat… Don’t drink bleach! There is NO CURE for CHLORINE POISONING!
Now that we got the early-warning part out of the way, here’s the what, when, and why behind this completely insane and life-threatening online trend.
First of all, you need to understand that household chlorine bleach is used to clean, whiten, and disinfect. You may have noticed a large jug of it in the laundry room. It is harmless when added in recommended (small) doses to water for cleaning purposes. A few drops added to water will purify it for drinking.
But breathing, swallowing or skin contact with larger amounts of chlorine bleach is extremely harmful to human health.
It all started ten years ago, according to a couple of YouTube pranksters. Jordan Thornsburg approached Brad Diehl with an idea they both thought would be hilarious and released a video called “The Bleach Challenge.”
The 2009 video went viral. It was intended as a practical joke, a spoof on another internet-based challenge that involved people trying to drink a gallon of milk without up-chucking it.
In the video, Diehl appears to drink a name-brand bleach straight from its gallon-sized white bottle. Following scenes show Diehl vomiting a red, chunky liquid which viewers assumed was blood and stomach contents. But no. That was actually tomato juice.
The video seemed so real that kids of all ages (even those over 18 years old, if you catch my drift) began rose to meet the challenge. A 17-year-old Belgian named Kris Weemaels was hospitalized with severe burns to his esophagus after he downed “several slugs” of pure bleach.
Why did the young man drink pure bleach? Because his friends bet him 10 Euros (currently worth $11.30 in US dollars) that he wouldn’t do it.
Jan Tytgat, a toxicologist from the University of Leuven in Belgium, said that esophageal burns were “just the beginning” and that the lad’s vital organ could be “eaten away” completely. Even worse health consequences could happen if the bleach makes its way into the stomach where it reacts with gastric (stomach) acid.
Videographer Thornsburg said that he thought everyone who watched the video would understand it was meant as a joke:
“I wanted it to be so ridiculous that it was just funny, like it was just going to be scripted and it would be hilarious and ridiculous, like no way is any of this real.”
Near the end of a second, 10-year-anniversary video which Thornsburg posted recently, Diehl didn’t actually apologize for endangering his highly-suggestible viewers, but did claim he had no idea people would take this absurd notion seriously:
“I was appalled that my friends legitimately thought I would drink bleach. I’m stupid, but I’m not drink-bleach stupid…DON’T DRINK BEACH!”
Thornsburg himself called his own comedic creation “stupid,” and said, “It was made to be a totally ridiculous parody on consumption challenges.”
Peer pressure is very powerful. Just about everyone wants to be popular, impress for success, and make friends with the “in” crowd. Be wise and do some online research before joining dangerously idiotic crazes such as eating detergent pods, which is another major health hazard and really bad thing to do.
Spare yourself the agony and spare your parents the expense of rushing to the hospital emergency room to get poison aid. The signs of chlorine poisoning are downright terrifying and include:
- Airway irritation
- Difficulty breathing
- Sore throat
- Chest tightness
- Eye irritation
- Skin irritation
Check out the complete list of chlorine poisoning symptoms here.
Fast-forward to the present. An alleged cure for lethal illnesses and autism is being promoted quite seriously – and gullible people are swallowing it (figuratively and literally). “It” is called the “Miracle Mineral Solution” or MMS.
Last month, on May 21, 2019, YouTube influencer Jordan Sather tweeted this message:
“I’ve drank [sic] MMS (a.k.a. chlorine dioxide), brushed my teeth with it, breathed it, cleaned with it, used it topically…If MMS was a ‘toxic bleach,’ I should be dead. Sorry FDA and fake news media, you lose this one.”
Sather should be dead if he did what he claims he did. And, while I’m no big fan of all FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) determinations, sometimes they do get it right. This is one of those times – MMS is industrial bleach, plain and simple:
“Chlorine dioxide is a mix of sodium chlorite and an acid activator that former Scientologist Jim Humble first hawked as a miracle cure two decades ago. Humble claimed MMS had cured malaria, leading him to name himself archbishop of a new religion centered around chlorine dioxide, which he dubbed the Miracle Mineral Solution, or MMS. Humble touted MMS as a cure for AIDS, cancer and diabetes.”
For the record, common household chlorine bleach “is the number one cause of accidental poisonings in the U.S. with more than 50,000 cases (including eight deaths) reported to poison control centers in a single year.”
If you or someone you know has drunk bleach, ACT IMMEDIATELY. The odds of recovering depend on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment is received. The faster you get medical assistance, the better the chance for recovery. Follow these guidelines:
- Never induce vomiting (the bleach will do damage coming back up the throat)
- Make haste! Go to an emergency medical facility and explain what happened.
- If you have no transportation, dial 911 or your local emergency services number.
For more information about chlorine, contact these agencies:
- Poison Help hotline: 1-800-222-1222 (toll-free from anywhere in the U.S.)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Response Hotline (CDC)
800-CDC-INFO or 888-232-6348 (TTY)
Don’t be “drink-bleach stupid.” Use the common sense you were born with and the cell phone your parents bought you to do some online research before you follow the latest online consumption challenge.