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What Happens if You Get Chlorine Poisoning?
Monday, August 12, 2019
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Painful burning.

Eye-searing.

Lung-scarring.

These are the words that chlorine poisoning sufferers from a recent accident used to describe the event. Chlorine is an effective and safe germ-killer in the correct concentration. However, when something goes wrong, the results are dramatic and dangerous.

OSHA reports for 2017 detail 11 industrial chlorine inhalation accidents. Much more common are consumer-level incidents caused by household chemicals. Reliable and frequent water monitoring prevents most water source quality incidents.

Touching, swallowing and breathing too much chlorine damages tissues. Mixing household chemicals with ammonia and chlorine can release poison gas. However, chlorine exposure alone can cause damage.

Read on to learn more about chlorine poisoning.

Chlorine Poisoning Symptoms

Chlorine reacts with the water in your cells and denatures cellular proteins. Chlorine poisoning attacks the mucous membranes if breathed or swallowed. It can make its way into the bloodstream and injure the organs.

External Exposure

Symptoms of external exposure include:

  • Blurry vision
  • Burns and necrosis
  • Irritation
  • Tissue injury

This can result in severe injury and loss of eyesight.

Respiratory Symptoms

Internal respiratory symptoms include:

  • Asthma-like shortness of breath
  • Labored breathing
  • Lung fluid build-up
  • Coughing and wheezing

Severe injury and scarring to the tissues can result.

Circulatory System Damage

In addition, chlorine poisoning can damage your circulatory system, leading to:

  • Changes in the pH balance of your blood
  • Low blood pressure
  • Organ damage

Ingestion Exposure

If you ingest chlorine, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Mouth and throat burns
  • Throat swelling and pain
  • Stomach pain
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody stool

Minimize exposure to chlorine to limit tissue damage.

If chlorine is in the air, get the victim to fresh air. If touched, irrigate the exposed area with clean water. If ingested, dilute with water or milk if the victim is able to swallow.

Do not induce vomiting unless instructed by medical personnel. Seek help immediately.

Prevent Chlorine Overexposure

The best prevention is to keep workers away from chlorine using the following measures:

  • Always use the correct concentration
  • Always wear PPE
  • Limit worker contact with chemicals
  • Educate consumers to never mix cleaners or household chemicals

Water monitoring ensures the correct concentration of chlorine in the output. Automatic sensors can also monitor air quality inside the processing area. The alternative is to expose a person to sample and test systems several times a day.

A strong scent of chlorine is not a sign of cleaner or safer water. Over- or under-chlorination results in unhealthful quality. Under- chlorinated water may have a bacteria load hundreds of times the safe limit.

Over-chlorinated water is caustic. It can damage tissues as chlorine gas attacks the eyes, lungs, and skin on exposure. Monitor residual chlorine in treated well water, recycled non-potable water or other uses.

Chlorine and Water in the Right Measure

Water disinfection with chlorine is a safe, cost-effective and time-tested method. However, chlorine poisoning through overexposure is always a concern. It is a worker safety hazard to manually test and control chlorination systems.

Automatic monitoring and logging are more efficient. They reduce possible human exposure. Prevent consumer-level chlorine poisoning with low-residue water delivery and proper consumer education

Want to learn more about preventing chlorine poisoning and delivering clean, safe water with minimal risks? Contact us today to learn about our water-quality monitoring products.

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