Friday 30 December 2016

Sodium hypochlorite: health effects, incident management and toxicology

Sodium hypochlorite is a commonly used disinfectant and sanitization agent. The U.K. government has recently updated safety information relating to use of the chemical.

Key points from the review are:
  • sodium hypochlorite is a green/yellow liquid with the characteristic smell of chlorine
  • it is a major ingredient in household bleach (present at up to 10%)
  • it is also used as a disinfectant for swimming pools, can be used to disinfect drinking water, in some medical treatments and in the manufacture of paper and pulp
  • accidental skin or eye exposures to sodium hypochlorite in domestic products are common
  • children may be exposed to sodium hypochlorite in bleach following accidental ingestion
  • mixing sodium hypochlorite bleach with other cleaning products may produce dangerous gases  ingestion of small amounts of household bleach is unlikely to cause any serious or long term health effects
  • ingesting large amounts of household bleach or any amount of industrial strength bleach is more likely to cause serious health effects

Further information can be found here.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle


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