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First Aid for Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning

Last updated March 2, 2018

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Sodium hypochlorite is a greenish-yellow liquid that forms a major constituent of many bleaching agents (especially laundry bleach). Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (swallowing, breathing-in, or skin contact) of any product containing the compound.

What is Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning?

  • Sodium hypochlorite is a greenish-yellow liquid that forms a major constituent of many bleaching agents (especially laundry bleach). It is also used in wastewater treatment as a disinfectant, and as a sanitizer of food process equipment
  • Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning is the accidental or intentional intake (swallowing, breathing-in, or skin contact) of any product containing the compound
  • The condition is diagnosed based upon the clinical history, combination of signs and symptoms, and additional tests (that may include, in some cases, radiological studies and laboratory tests)

Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning may be also referred to variously as the following:

  • Antiformin Poisoning
  • Bleach Poisoning
  • Carrel-Dakin Solution Poisoning
  • Chloride of Soda Poisoning
  • Clorox Poisoning
  • Jiasu's Chloronium Sauce Poisoning
  • Liquid Bleach Poisoning
  • Modified Dakin's Solution Poisoning
  • Sodium Hypochlorite Toxicity
  • Surgical Chlorinated Soda Solution Poisoning

What are the Causes of Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning?

  • Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning is caused by the ingestion, inhalation, or exposure of skin to sodium hypochlorite compounds and products
  • This intake could be accidental, or in some cases intentional, to bring self-harm
  • Sodium hypochlorite is present in certain domestic products including household bleach, water purifier, laundry detergent, and deodorizer. Generally, household products containing sodium hypochlorite are mild, when compared to industrial-grade products containing the chemical

Note: The compound can interact with other prescribed or non-prescribed medications in the body. Such interactions may enhance the therapeutic effects of other medications being taken, resulting in undesired side effects.

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning?

The signs and symptoms of Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning can vary from one individual to another. It may be mild in some and severe in others. Several systems of the body, such as the vascular system, digestive system, respiratory system, skin and ENT, may be affected.

The signs and symptoms of Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning may include:

  • Breathing difficulties, if fumes of the solution are inhaled
  • Chest pain and gagging sensation; coughing
  • Burning and associated pain in the mouth, throat, and food-pipe (even the stomach may be burnt)
  • Speaking and swallowing difficulties
  • Skin irritation and burns (blister formation)
  • Eye irritation, burning sensation, redness and pain, if the compound spills into one’s eye
  • Irregular heartbeat and decrease in blood pressure (hypotension)
  • Stomach pain
  • Shock
  • Coma

How is First Aid administered for Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning?

First Aid tips for Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency help number, for emergency assistance
  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or your local poison control center) for further instructions
  • Provide them with information such as the compound taken, quantity and time of ingestion, age, weight and general health status of affected individual
  • Carefully remove the individual from the exposure area; move them to region of fresh air immediately
  • Confirm that the airways are protected; also, ensure breathing and the presence of pulse
  • If skin exposure or involvement of the eye has occurred, then wash thoroughly with copious amounts of water (for at least 15 minutes)
  • Unless instructed by a healthcare professional, DO NOT induce vomiting in the affected individual
  • Otherwise, following an ingestion of the substance, immediately give milk or water to drink
  • In case of symptoms that indicate difficulty in swallowing including vomiting or decreased alertness, do not give anything by way of mouth
  • Take individual to emergency room (ER) for further treatment
  • Always try to take the product bottle/container to the ER

The emergency medical health professional might perform the following steps towards treating the condition:

  • Medically manage symptoms, such as abnormal heart rate
  • Provide breathing support, if necessary
  • Wash skin and eyes repeatedly and thoroughly (irrigation), to eliminate any remaining hazardous compound
  • Following this, a suitable skin or eye ointment may be used to treat the exposure
  • Surgical treatment for skin burns including removal of burnt skin
  • Administer fluids by an intravenous drip line

Who should administer First Aid for Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning?

First aid for Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning is administered by healthcare professionals.

  • The individual who is affected, or someone near, should call 911 for emergency assistance (or the local emergency number)
  • They should also call the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow instructions

What is the Prognosis of Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning?

  • The prognosis of Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning is dependent on the amount of substance consumed, time between consumption and treatment, severity of the symptoms, as well as general health status of the patient
  • If the individual can recover from the symptoms with appropriate medication and early support, the outcome is generally good. In many cases, household products with sodium hypochlorite are only mildly toxic; severe symptoms are not reported, apart from stomach upsets
  • Severe exposure of body organs (mouth, throat, gastrointestinal tract including stomach) to industrial-strength chemical can lead to complications and irreversible damage. In such cases, the outcome may be guarded

In general, toxicities are common situations in the emergency departments. A majority of the cases are often not fatal, when appropriate treatment is given.

How can Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning be Prevented?

Sodium Hypochlorite Poisoning can be prevented by:

  • Always following instructions for usage of any chemical product
  • Keeping any poisonous/hazardous chemicals and other materials out of children’s reach
  • Keep all poisons correctly labeled and in suitable storage locations
  • Wearing appropriate protective wear (such as masks) when working with such chemicals
  • NEVER mix home bleaching solutions and other chemicals to increase their cleaning effect; it can result in the production of certain toxic gases
  • Be aware of basic first aid steps in case of an emergency (such as inadvertent poisoning)

What are certain Crucial Steps to be followed?

  • Call 911 (or your local emergency number) for emergency assistance, if symptoms are life-threatening
  • Call Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 (or the local poison control center) and follow the recommend steps
  • It would be helpful if the following information is readily available:
    • Type, amount and time of consumption of the substance
    • Age and weight of the individual
    • And, the overall health status of the individual

What are some Useful Resources for Additional Information?

References and Information Sources used for the Article:

Helpful Peer-Reviewed Medical Articles:

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: Aug. 2, 2017
Last updated: March 2, 2018