Bleach, despite its long-standing use in households and commercial spaces, has recently come under scrutiny due to incidents like the following bleach related death, we wanted to make sure that we give our customers as much safety information as possible - even if it has nothing to do with our products. There are very definitive dangers of bleach to health and welfare. Such alarming events underscore the pressing need to understand and respect the potency of this chemical.
Bleach: A Bane in Disguise
Bleach, mainly comprising sodium hypochlorite, is hailed for its disinfectant properties. Its prowess in eliminating stains and microbes is unparalleled. But its efficacy comes at a price—potential health and environmental hazards. While bleach’s pungent aroma and potential for material destruction are concerns, its real danger lies in its health implications. Despite these risks, bleach remains a ubiquitous cleaning agent. But why?
Trapped in Tradition
Bleach's existence traces back to the 17th century. This enduring legacy often equates to a handed-down habit: if our predecessors used it, it must be safe, right? Wrong. Although technology, transportation, and treatments have evolved, bleach usage remains stuck in a time warp.
The rationale behind its widespread use is simple:
- Underestimation of its peril
Many choose bleach for its cost-effectiveness, often overlooking its lurking dangers.
The Unseen Menace in the Workplace
Primarily a solution of sodium hypochlorite, bleach reacts with several substances, leading to discoloration and material breakdown.
OSHA highlights multiple health hazards associated with bleach. Exposure may result in:
- Respiratory issues
- Organ damage
- Burns or irritation to eyes, skin, throat, etc.
- Potentially fatal tissue damage
To mitigate these risks, OSHA advises:
- Opting for safer cleaning alternatives
- Strictly adhering to label directions
- Using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
- Minimizing exposure duration
- Ensuring proper dilution
- NEVER mixing bleach with other chemicals
Especially vital is the last point. Bleach, when combined with certain substances, produces toxic gases – a fact tragically validated by numerous injury and fatality reports.
The Environmental Cost
Beyond human health, bleach endangers our ecosystem. When used extensively, particularly in industrial settings, resultant wastewater, laced with bleach, contaminates local water sources, jeopardizing aquatic life.
OSHA (The Occupational Safety and Health Administration) has documented lots of potential health issues that can occur when working with bleach. These issues can include respiratory distress, pain, burning, irritation, as well as damage to lungs, organs, eyes, nasal passages, throat, skin and other body parts. Even in a short period of time, bleach can permanently damage tissue or cause death. In fact, it’s recommended that anyone using bleach:
- Use alternative cleaners when available
- Read all packaging for safe use instructions
- Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) including gloves, masks, and eye protection to avoid bodily exposure
- Limit the amount of time you are in a location where bleach is present
- Properly dilute bleach based on need/use
- Avoid mixing bleach with any other chemical
This last point is extremely important. Mixing bleach with other cleaning or chemical components can create a dangerous reaction resulting in noxious fumes. Sadly, there have been countless injuries and deaths related to bleach exposure and fume inhalation.
Another point to call out is that bleach is bad for the environment. Bleach, especially in commercial settings, is often used in massive quantities. This means gallons of wastewater containing bleach are released into local bodies of water – impacting fish and wildlife populations.
Modern, safer, and eco-friendlier alternatives to bleach abound. These alternatives offer effective cleaning without the hazardous repercussions.
Your well-being is paramount. Reach out if you're seeking guidance on bleach-free cleaning solutions. At CAF, we're committed to a cleaner and safer world for all.
There are an abundance of bleach-free alternatives for cleaning and disinfecting different surfaces that are safer for you and the environment. It’s always best to explore these other options before turning to bleach.
Remember, your safety is always a priority. If you have questions on cleaning or better bleach-free alternatives, give us a shout! We’d love to give you some ideas on cleaners that are healthier for you, your workplace and the environment.