Chlorine Health and Cancer
Many house cleaning products, such as bleaches, toilet cleaners, mildew stain removers, and cleaning sprays contain sodium hypochlorite, commonly referred to as chlorine, which is often mixed with other chemicals such as surfactants and fragrances.
Cleaning products that contain chlorine have been known to cause asthma-like symptoms after prolonged exposure and the bleach that is used on hair commonly affects the hands, which is called occupational contact dermatitis. Sometimes the arms and the face can be affected as well. The occupations most frequently impacted negatively by bleach were healthcare workers and hairdressers.
Mixing bleach with ammonia-based cleaners results in formation of chloramines while mixing it with an acid-based cleaner will cause the release of chlorine gas. When mixing chlorine-bleach containing cleaning products with other chemical-based cleaning supplies, hazardous fumes can be generated and these fumes may significantly increase the risk of cancer.
Construction workers also are affected by chlorine exposure; they often show throat and eye irritation as well as a cough or flu-like symptoms when there is repeated inhalation of chlorine or repeated exposure over a three to six month period.
A recent study published in Environmental Science & Technology indicated for the first time that sodium hypochlorite and other chemicals (e.g., surfactants, fragrances) contained in several household cleaning products react to generate chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These chlorinated compounds are emitted during cleaning applications and most of them are toxic and probable human carcinogens.
There is enough evidence to show that chlorine-bleach affects our health and our daily life. There are many things that we can do to reduce the amount of chlorine being used in industry and to reduce the risks this chemical presents. We could choose natural cleaners such as baking soda and white vinegar rather than ones laden in harmful chemicals or remove chlorine from drinking water by running it through an attached filtration system. If you must work with this chemical take precautionary measures to avoid inhalation and contact with skin.