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Lung diseases

Inhaled Bleach Fumes

04/05/2011

Question:

Almost 2 days ago I was cleaning my bathroom and using bleach. Well my eyes started watering and it was hard for me to breathe, all I could smell was bleach, and I had a pretty bad headache so I went outside for a bit. It seemed like I was a little better. Well now I have had a stuffy nose for the past 2 days, and this morning I had some mucus and there was blood in it, is this a sign of something more serious caused by the bleach inhalation?

Answer:

Hi, the symptoms you describe would be expected after a relatively minor exposure to chlorine bleach.  The biggest acute risks from chlorine are associated with heavy concentrations of chlorine in a gaseous state (usually experienced by workers using chlorine in some industrial process).  It's best to use cleaners like these with adequate ventilation and NEVER mix bleach with ammonia (this can create a very dangerous gas).  You are probably feeling better after your exposure and it's unlikely you will have any further problem. 

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Response by:

J Mac Crawford, PhD, RN J Mac Crawford, PhD, RN
Clinical Associate Professor of Environmental Health Sciences
College of Public Health
The Ohio State University