How does chloramine gas smell
Some of the most common items in your home may not be as safe as you think they are. An example? The dangers of bleach, one of the most widely used disinfectants in the world.
Despite claims that it is extremely safe when used properly, bleach continues to be researched to investigate possible effects on respiratory health, especially in children.
Additionally, one of the scariest dangers of bleach is what happens when you mix it (on purpose or without realizing it) with other household chemicals.
BuzzFeed includes three toxic bleach combinations on a list of common products that should never be mixed, and warns readers of what happens if bleach comes in contact with vinegar, ammonia, or alcohol.
Still, some of the dangers of bleach are unknown, and people continue to mix products and expose themselves and their families to dangerous chemicals, all in the name of cleanliness.
But I think you should never use bleach in your home again, and I'll explain why. As a bonus, I'll show you a few too natural cleaning productsthat you can use to get your job done without putting you and your family at risk.
What is bleach?
To understand the dangers of bleach, you should first look at its most common uses. To be precise, bleach is a disinfectant and stain remover. Many people do not realize this, but bleach should not be used as a household cleaner, but after washing the surfaces to remove any remaining germs.
Bleach can be purchased in both liquid and powder forms. Bleach is also used in many industrial processes to kill germs, destroy weeds, and bleach wood pulp.
Depending on the type of bleach you get, it may or may not contain chlorine. Typically, bleaches contain either an active ingredient made from chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) or hydrogen peroxide.
What ingredients are in bleach?
To understand the dangers of bleach, it is important to know what is actually in it. After using water as a base, a typical bottle of bleach will contain: (2)
Sodium hydroxide: This is where the chlorine molecules in the bleach are released (when combined with sodium chloride). While The Clorox Company rightly states that liquid bleach does not contain "free" chlorine, it is also true that certain bleaching processes release chlorine molecules. (3)
Here's what the CDC has to say about sodium hydroxide quoted directly on their website:
“Inhaling sodium hydroxide dust, mist or aerosol can irritate the mucous membranes of the nose, throat and airways. Children exposed to the same airborne sodium hydroxide levels as adults may receive a larger dose because they have a larger lung surface area to body weight ratio and an increased minute volume to weight ratio. Additionally, due to their short stature and higher levels of sodium hydroxide in the air closer to the ground, they may be exposed to higher concentrations than adults in the same location. Direct contact with the solid or with concentrated solutions leads to thermal and chemical burns, which lead to damage to the deep tissue. Very strong sodium hydroxide solutions can hydrolyze proteins in the eyes, causing severe burns and eye damage or, in extreme cases, blindness. Ingestion of sodium hydroxide can cause severe, caustic injuries to the lips, tongue, lining of the mouth, esophagus, and stomach. Stridor, vomiting, drooling, and abdominal pain are early symptoms of sodium hydroxide ingestion. Ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal perforation and shock. "(4)
While home cleaning products do not contain enough sodium hydroxide to cause some of these effects on their own (e.g., chemical burns), there is already evidence that aerosol use of bleach has effects on the respiratory tract of adults and children. Chlorine bleach is not believed to bioaccumulate in the body, but the damage it does can increase over time. (5)
Chlorine poisoning is a definite problem with using bleach products containing sodium hydroxide and sodium chloride. This can occur when bleach and ammonia are mixed (more on that in a moment). or when bleach is absorbed directly. Symptoms such as difficulty breathing, swelling of the throat, and many other complications. (6)
Sodium hypochlorite: This common bleach is one of the things that gives the bleach its strong odor. (7) Inhalation of its fumes can cause poisoning and is more likely if the product is mixed with ammonia. (8) Many people refer to pure sodium hypochlorite simply as "bleach" because it is the most common bleach. A common misconception arises when people assume that this is the ingredient that makes the chlorine in chlorinated bleach. However, as mentioned above, it occurs as a reaction between sodium hydroxide and sodium chloride.
Sodium chloride: Table salt is another name for sodium chloride. It is used in bleaches as a thickening and stabilizing agent.
Sodium: This ingredient neutralizes acid and helps build “cleaning efficiency”. It is used to improve the bleach's ability to remove alcohol and grease stains. (9)
Sodium chlorate: Sodium chlorate, one of the breakdown substances of sodium hypochlorite, is known to accelerate and increase flammability. (10)
Sodium polyacrylate: In the US, sodium polyacrylate is considered likely to be safe, but Environment Canada's list of Domestic Substances lists it as "Likely Toxic to Organ Systems". (11) It is used in detergents and bleaches to prevent dirt from redeposing on fabrics during wash cycles.
Sodium c10-c16 alkyl sulfate: This alkyl sulfate, found in some bleaches, causes eye and skin irritation and is potentially toxic to the liver if inhaled for long periods of time. (12)
Hydrogen peroxide: I use peroxide regularly - and this ingredient is really great! Hydrogen peroxide alone can help clean grout, tiles, toilets, tubs, and more. (13)
History of bleach
Throughout history, the process of "bleaching" has been carried out by a number of methods, the earliest form of spreading fabric in an open area known as a bleaching field, intended to be lightened by water and sun. This is sometimes referred to as "sun bleaching". Given the dangers of bleaching today, perhaps we should have followed this method.
In the 18th century, four scientists made discoveries related to chlorine that started the creation of chlorine bleach as we understand it today.
Carl Wilhelm Scheele of Sweden discovered chlorine in 1774 (although the word “chlorine” wasn't used to describe it until 1810). French scientist Claude Berthollet was the first to make sodium hypochlorite and recognize chlorine as a bleach. Another Frenchman, Antoine Germain Labarraque, discovered hypochlorites that were used for disinfection.
Finally, Charles Tennant of Scotland determined that the combination of chlorine and lime would give the best bleaching results known at the time. He received a patent for his preparation in 1798.
On the hydrogen peroxide side: the scientist Louis Jacques Thénard first produced the substance in 1818. It was not used for bleaching until 1882 and then became commercially popular in the 1930s.
Main uses of bleach
For bleach fans, there isn't much that can be done with a little bleach Not help can. Household bleach is recommended as a disinfectant for:
- Disinfection of toilet bowls
- Disinfection of floors
- Remove stains from cups / drinking utensils
- Giving shine to glass objects
- Whiten clothes and remove stains
- Cleaning garden furniture to repair mold damage
- Mold removal
- Window washing aid
These are just a few of the general recommendations for bleach. If its about Black mold goes, the CDC recommends using a bleach solution to disinfect affected areas, but warns of the dangers of mixing bleach with other detergents. (14)
If bleach was your only option, it might make sense to use it when sanitizing or mold cleaning your room. But it's not the only choice - I'll get into better alternatives to bleaching later.
Dangers of bleaching
1. Doesn't go well with others
One of the greatest dangers of bleach is that it can be dangerous when combined with a number of other products. Warning labels are placed on all bleach to warn that they should never be combined with supplies that contain ammonia or "other household chemicals". How can this be done, however?
For example, many people don't take the time to read labels like this one. Second, the issues that result are not listed on the label so consumers don't necessarily know how it is dangerous to combine bleach with other things.
Third (and this is my biggest problem) there is no guarantee that if you have to use them on the same surfaces, the detergents will not mix, even if you rinse the surface well.
“But Doctor Stubene”, you might think, “it is really one such a big deal? "
Let's look at what happens when bleach is combined with different substances.
Bleach + ammonia
Mixing these two can be a potentially deadly combination. When ammonia and bleach are combined, the chlorine in the bleach turns into chloramine gas. (15) Exposure to chloramine gas can result in:
- to cough
- shortness of breath
- Watery eyes
- Chest pain
- Ear, nose and eye irritation
- Pneumonia / buildup of fluid in the lungs
Ammonia occurs alone as a cleaning agent and in some glass cleaners. Even more frightening, the urine contains ammonia, which should lead to even greater caution when cleaning urine-stained items.
Oh, and let's not forget that about 25 percent of public drinking water in the United States is treated with monochloramines. The boiling point of these chemicals is around 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and they can be released from the water in around 24 hours. Therefore, the water you use to flush your surfaces can also contribute to the formation of chloramine gas.
It is not uncommon for people to be poisoned in this way, and although most cases of sodium hypochlorite poisoning (the official term for the condition) are resolved without permanent effects, there have been many reports of this exposure to chloramine causing damage such as serious lung injury. (16, 17) The risk is multiplied when a person already has respiratory diseases. (18)
There is also a rare but possible interaction between chlorine bleach and ammonia. Have you ever heard of liquid hydrazine? If not, you might recognize the street name: rocket fuel. You guessed it - when “excess” ammonia is combined with bleach, it can create explosive rocket fuel. (19)
To be honest, the amount of ammonia and bleach needed for this reaction will likely only be found in industrial settings. However, I think the chloramine gas problem is reason enough to avoid this altogether.
Bleach + acidic products
Another type of common cleaning product category is acidic cleaners. These include vinegar, some glass cleaners, dish detergent, toilet bowl cleaners, drain cleaners, rust removers, and brick / concrete detergents.
As with ammonia, this combination releases a dangerous gas - but this time chlorine gas. (20)
Even small amounts of chlorine gas briefly trigger reactions such as:
- Ear, nose and ear irritation
- Cough / breathing problems
- Burning, watery eyes
- Runny nose
After long periods of exposure, these symptoms can lead to:
- Chest pain
- Severe breathing problems
- lung infection
- Fluid in the lungs
It is possible for chlorine gas to be absorbed dermally (through the skin) causing pain, inflammation, blisters, and swelling. The acid can burn the skin, eyes, ears, nose, throat, and stomach.
Bleach + alcohol
Many people consider alcohol and acetone to be very harmless like detergents. But when these substances come into contact with bleach, they create chloroform ... You know, the stuff in movies that kidnappers use to turn people off. (21)
According to the CDC, chloroform is a likely carcinogen, which is why it was banned as a drug or for other common uses in 1976. (22, 23)
Bleach + other cleaners
Adding bleach to other cleaners like hydrogen peroxide, oven cleaners, and some pesticides can create noxious fumes like chlorine gas or chloramine gases. Just do not. (24)
Bleach + water
What is really left after cleaning is water, right? Yes, the instructions for household bleach state that it must only be combined with water and always diluted before using it to clean surfaces (the water in the washing machine dilutes the bleach for laundry).
This would be fine, except that alcohol isn't the only substance that reacts with bleach to produce chloroform gas. Water with a high enough "organic matter" (also known as dirt) can generate chloroform gas. (25)
Clean tap water is fine, but what happens after you've used that water for cleaning and flushing? The evidence for this problem is the next major threat of bleaching.
2. Toxic showers
You've probably noticed that you don't pass out every time you shower. I can't imagine a lot of people showering a lot if that were the case. However, it is still quite likely that you have been exposed to low levels of chloroform in your shower. Even the CDC admits. (26)
This is not a shock to most people. In an article in the magazine Medical hypotheses It was postulated in 1984 that exposure to chloroform in the shower could be a "serious public health problem". (27) Despite several follow-up studies around the world, not much has been done to address this problem.
The World Health Organization explains in a press release about common disinfectants that chloroform is formed when chlorine reacts with organic matter. One class of organic matter that is of paramount importance is called "humic matter". On the list of these substances are phenol and alcohol, two compounds that are excreted in human urine. (28, 29)
Disinfecting your shower with chlorinated bleach is one way chlorine can get into your shower. In addition, most public water systems are treated with chlorine or chloramines to disinfect the water. So if you actually shower, the chlorine levels are likely to increase. (Chloramines also interact with organic matter to form chloroform, but not as often as chlorine.)
On top of that, showering is designed to remove the dirt from your body and that many people tend to take a shower relieved themselves and that you have a toxic combination. Chloroform is in itself very dangerous, but when exposed to sunlight it can also convert into phosgene, an even more sinister chemical that was used as a chemical weapon during World War I. (30)
In chlorinated water, a person is significantly exposed to chloroform in just 10-15 minutes in the shower. (31) Again, the presence of bleach, which is used as a detergent, contributes to this amount. The amount of chloroform you breathe and the amount you are exposed through your skin are roughly the same. (32)
Eight out of ten people in the United States have noticeable levels of chloroform in their bodies. (33) The length and heat of your shower directly affect the amount of chloroform you are exposed to. (34)
A study was conducted in Taiwan to compare areas with heavily chlorinated water versus areas with non-chlorinated water and to compare the risk of cancer. The researchers found that the total number of cancer cases in areas with high levels of chloroform exposure was significantly higher (up to six times higher for those who routinely showered for 20 minutes). (35)
This, in my opinion, is even more of a reason to ditch the bleach ... and probably install a whole house water filter to eliminate chlorine while you're at it.
3. Baby (and pet) magnet
While it is possible to keep bleach away from children and pets, there are still a large number of bleach poisoning incidents each year. Detergents account for approximately 11.2 percent of poison control cases (a total of 118,346 cases in 2015). (36) This doesn't break down into bleach compared to other detergents. However, the World Health Organization lists bleach as one of the world's most commonly poisoned toxins for children. (37)
Pets also routinely get into bleach products, although the statistics on this are not as readily available.
If ingested, undiluted, extra strong bleach can burn your mouth, nasal passages, throat, and stomach. Fortunately, most cases are not extremely dangerous due to the harmful odor bleaching agents, which prevents the majority of children or animals from drinking a majority of the substance.
The first thing you should know is that exposure to bleach should always be considered a medical emergency, especially if undiluted bleach has been ingested. Encourage your child or pet No way vomiting, which can lead to additional damage. Instead, give him water to drink to avoid additional burns and see a doctor immediately.
4. May promote mold growth
Another surprising item on a list of the dangers of bleach is that there is the growth of toxic mold promote instead of helping to eliminate them. For this reason, the OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Organization) does not recommend using bleach to clean up mold. (38) The EPA followed suit and updated its mold guidelines to avoid proposing bleach. (39)
Bleach and mold don't mix well because of their innate properties. The opportunistic mold needs to spread roots (mycelia) into a porous surface in order to survive. On the other hand, chlorine bleach only works on non-porous surfaces and disintegrates very quickly. If you're using bleach on a mold-infested surface, end up just letting water (most of the household bleach and what is left as the chemicals dissolve) add moisture to an area that needs to stay dry.
Some sources even suggest that using bleach on porous surfaces can cause mold to build up in areas where it wasn't before. (40)
Bottom line: never treat mold with bleach. Instead, follow OSHA or EPA's mold guidelines to find out how best to safely rid your home of toxic mold.
5. Induces breathing problems
Even without combining it with other chemicals, bleach creates problems of its own. Bleach is more likely to cause breathing problems than other cleaning products. (41) Several studies have shown that bleaching agents can be particularly problematic for people with asthma or chronic bronchitis, although some small studies suggest that it might relieve some symptoms of asthma. (42, 43)
Enough research has shown that bleaching agents are associated with asthma symptoms, which the Association of Occupational and Environmental Clinics (AOEC) has designated as bleaching asthma symptoms. (44)
It appears that the form of bleach most likely to cause breathing problems, particularly asthma, is caused by aerosol exposure. (45, 46)
Other lung injuries and respiratory diseases can occur from inhalation of chlorine bleach. (47, 48) For example, one study found that exposure to common cleaning chemicals, especially bleach, increased the likelihood of people being observed COPD fell ill, led to 24 to 32 percent. (49)
Chlorine gas can also cause chemical pneumonitis, a condition caused by coughing, difficulty breathing, feeling unable to breathe (hunger for air), wet / gurgling chest sounds, and burning sensation in the chest. Repeated exposures can cause inflammation and lung stiffness, which can lead to respiratory failure and possible death. (50)
6. Neutralized by dirt
If all of these weren't enough for you, it turns out that the bleach is actually being neutralized by dirt until enough of it is used that you may breathe in a large amount of the inhaled vapors. The WHO explains how bleach works as follows:
"[Bleach] acts as a strong oxidizing agent and often dissolves in side reactions so quickly that little disinfection is performed until quantities are added that exceed the chlorine requirement."
In other words, bleach only works on surfaces with no organic material. Before using it to disinfect, you should wash the affected surface thoroughly, most likely with something that will react poorly with bleach. (51)
Related topics: Food storage tips to extend its shelf life
Better bleach alternatives
May I suggest something better?
If you are interested in reducing total chlorine exposure, the first thing to do is to install water filters that will rid your water of the chemical. Two options include point-of-use systems and point-of-entry systems. Point-of-entry or "whole house" filters are a great option because you know that even the water you use in the shower has been purified to remove chloroform-causing chlorine. (52, 53)
Then try these other bleach-free options:
Distilled vinegar: On its own, vinegar is an incredible cleaning solution. It may not smell nice, but it will sure help keep your space fresh and clean.
Lemon: In the form of juice or lemon essential oil this citrus fruit is ideal for killing bacteria. Just make sure you keep it in glass and not plastic as the acidity in lemon oil can eat away plastic.
Hydrogen peroxide: This safe bleach alternative goes a long way in helping whites become white and disinfected without the risk of bleach hanging over your head.
I also have several Eco cleaner developedthat combine the germicidal and laundry cleaning effects of a range of natural products:
Homemade Maleuca Lemon household cleaner : With the disinfecting power of vinegar, Tea tree oil and lemon oil, this cleaner will keep your house germ free and smell delicious.
Homemade Stain remover : Do you know the key to stain removal? It ensures that you don't use the same method for every stain. Check out my Stain removal ideas and throw away the bleach bottle.
However, if you do decide to use bleach, consider using one that has been rated as good by the EEC (Environmental Working Group). They carefully examine the ingredients and production processes to make sure you know what is in your products and what potential hazards they can pose. (If it helps put it into perspective, the leading household bleach brand gets an "F" rating, which is just as bad as school.)
Here are the EEC bleach rankings.
Final thoughts on the dangers of bleaching
- Bleach has been a widely used household disinfectant for many years. However, the ingredients it contains do not justify the potential problems that can arise from it in my opinion. Why? The dangers of bleach are compounded when mixed with certain other substances.
- Never combine bleach with other household cleaners as this can release a variety of toxic gases. In particular, avoid using bleach to disinfect your shower, as it can be a factor in the formation of chloroform, a likely carcinogen.
- Always keep bleach away from your children and pets when you plan to have it in your home. Never use bleach to treat mold as it can encourage mold growth. Note that you will need to use a lot of bleach to disinfect surfaces that still contain dirt, as organic matter will neutralize the germicidal power of the fabric.
- The most common physical complaints related to beach exposure are respiratory problems such as asthma, COPD, and chemical pneumonitis.
- If you or someone you know is taking bleach, instead of encouraging them to vomit, give them water and treat the situation as a medical emergency.
- Alternatively, do what I did and remove the bleach entirely. There are a number of useful alternative cleaning and cleaning products that do not pose the same dangers as bleach, including lemon essential oil, tea tree essential oil, hydrogen peroxide, borax, and distilled vinegar.
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