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Using Hydrogen Peroxide at Work: Is It Safe?
Monday, February 10, 2020

Hydrogen peroxide has many industrial uses, like oxidizing, bleaching, and cleaning. And, it's used in some pretty surprising industries, including mining and transportation.

But, is hydrogen peroxide safe?

The real answer is, it depends on how you use it. When properly diluted, peroxide is an excellent option for cleaning and disinfecting. Plus, it's less harmful to the planet than other chemical compounds.

However, when used in too high a concentration or unsafely inhaled, peroxide can also cause harm. Keep reading to be sure you're using it safely!

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide, also known as H2O2, is a combination of hydrogen and oxygen, sold in varying strengths.

You're probably familiar with its most common concentration, sold by most pharmacies in a brown bottle. This blend, found in nearly every home, contains just 3%.

But, other types of peroxide, like those used in industrial applications, can contain up to 90%. These stronger concentrations are meant for factory settings and commercial uses like water treatment.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Oxidation and Cleaning

Peroxide decomposes into oxygen and water when exposed to salts of some metals like manganese, nickel, chromium, iron, and copper.

In the electronic industry, peroxide acts as an etchant during the production of printed circuit boards. It's also a common oxidizing and cleaning agent used in semiconductor manufacturing.

Hydrogen Peroxide is also part of a cleaning process known as AOP. The advanced oxidation process decomposes toxic substances and prepares them for safe disposal, reducing environmental impact.

Other manufacturing processes like paper and textile production use peroxide to prepare raw materials for use.

Hydrogen Peroxide in Other Industries

In addition to oxidation and cleaning, hydrogen peroxide is used to manufacture cosmetics and medicine, and to process food. It serves as an antimicrobial and bleaching agent in these industries.

The mining industry utilizes this powerful chemical in gold and uranium production. It helps concentrate compounds and bleach specific elements, like ore, for processing.

Surprisingly, highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide is even used as a propellant in the transportation industry!

No matter what application your workplace uses peroxide for, installing specialized equipment like hydrogen peroxide sensors, is recommended. Monitoring H2O2 levels in the air and water is a crucial step toward maintaining a safe workspace.

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe?

The short answer is yes, as long as you use and monitor its concentration properly. H2O2 hazards include eye, lung, and skin irritation, especially when used in concentrations more powerful than 3%.

Hydrogen peroxide poisoning is a serious condition that can occur when large amounts of the chemical are ingested or inhaled. If you or someone you know is exposed to an unsafe amount of peroxide, you should seek emergency medical assistance.

Not sure if you need help?

Because overexposure to peroxide can cause serious complications, you shouldn't take any chances. When in doubt, contact your local poison control center or 911 medical services.

The Bottom Line

So, is hydrogen peroxide safe? So long as it's being used properly in your workplace and appropriate safety measures are in place, you should be fine.

But, monitoring exposure levels is the only way to know for sure. And, it's always better to err on the side of caution.

If you're spending time in an environment like a factory or hair salon where you're exposed to the chemical frequently, your best bet is to install a hydrogen peroxide monitoring system.

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