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How can chlorine affect my health?
Scientists use many tests to protect the public from harmful effects of toxic chemicals and to find ways for treating persons who have been harmed.

The effect of chlorine on human health depends on how much chlorine is present, how you are exposed to it, and the length of exposure.

Short-term exposure to chlorine in air

The following effects have been observed in humans briefly exposed to chlorine:

mild nose irritation at 1â€"3 ppm
eye irritation at 5 ppm
throat irritation at 5â€"15 ppm
immediate chest pain, vomiting, changes in breathing rate, and cough at 30 ppm
lung injury (toxic pneumonitis) and pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) at 40â€"60 ppm
death after 30 minute exposure to 430 ppm
death after a few minute exposure to 1,000 ppm
The concentrations listed above are approximate; the effects will depend also on exposure duration. In general, people who suffer from respiratory conditions such as allergies or hay fever, or who are heavy smokers, tend to experience more severe effects than healthy subjects or nonsmokers.

Long-term exposure to chlorine in air

No significant harmful health effects were observed in workers exposed for years to relatively low concentrations of chlorine (around 1 ppm).

The tissues inside the nose were principally affected in animals exposed to chlorine for longer durations.

Short-term exposure to hypochlorite solution by ingestion

Drinking small amounts of hypochlorite solution (less than a cup) can produce irritation of the esophagus. Drinking concentrated hypochlorite solution can produce severe damage to the upper digestive tract and even death. These effects are most likely caused by the caustic nature of the hypochlorite solution and not from exposure to molecular chlorine.


How can sodium hydroxide affect my health?
Sodium hydroxide is very corrosive and can cause severe burns in all tissues that come in contact with it. Inhalation of low levels of sodium hydroxide as dusts, mists or aerosols may cause irritation of the nose, throat, and respiratory airways. Inhalation of higher levels can produce swelling or spasms of the upper airway leading to obstruction and loss of measurable pulse; inflammation of the lungs and accumulation of fluid in the lungs may also occur.

Ingestion of solid or liquid sodium hydroxide can cause spontaneous vomiting, chest and abdominal pain, and difficulty swallowing. Corrosive injury to the mouth, throat, esophagus, and stomach is very rapid and may result in perforation, hemorrhage, and narrowing of the gastrointestinal tract. Case reports indicate that death results from shock, infection of the corroded tissues, lung damage, or loss of measurable pulse.

Skin contact with sodium hydroxide can cause severe burns with deep ulcerations. Pain and irritation are evident within 3 minutes, but contact with dilute solutions may not cause symptoms for several hours. Contact with the eye may produce pain and irritation, and in severe cases, clouding of the eye and blindness.

Long-term exposure to sodium hydroxide in the air may lead to ulceration of the nasal passages and chronic skin irritation

Where can I get more information?
ATSDR can tell you where to find occupational and environmental health clinics. Their specialists can recognize, evaluate, and treat illnesses resulting from exposure to hazardous substances. You can also contact your community or state health or environmental quality department if you have any more questions or concerns.

For more information, contact:

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry
Division of Toxicology
1600 Clifton Road NE, Mailstop F-32
Atlanta, GA 30333
Phone: 1-888-42-ATSDR (1-888-422-8737)
FAX: (770)-488-4178

Chemical roof cleaning has grown massively in popularity over the last 10 years, most contractors now use a chemical only approach without fully understanding the environmental or health risks associated with the chemicals they are using.

Chlorine is the most widely used roof cleaning chemical and most people would think that chlorine is safe in the environment after all most people in Florida use it in their swimming pools so what could possible be wring with using it to clean a roof.

Plant Damage When you look at the chemical composition of chlorine you will find that there are many negative health and environmental consequences of using it for roof cleaning.

Most roof cleaners are unaware that tree frogs reside in the cracks and crevices around the exterior of homes in Florida, these tree frogs have been systematically wiped out by the irresponsible use of chlorine. Anything that disturbs the natural balance will result in long term negative consequences on our environment.

Tree frogs are not the only thing to be affected by chemical roof cleaning, plants, shrubs and lawns can also be affected by chemical burn from roof cleaning mixes.

Chlorine is extremely caustic and will not only burn vegetation but it will also rust metal fixtures and fittings. Roof tiles are secured to the roof with steel nails or screws, over time chlorine will rust these fittings causing major structural failure of the roof. Think twice before you let a chlorine cowboy loose on your property.

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