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Chlorine Gases Poisoning

Chlorine Gases Poisoning

Introduction

Chlorine is commonly available in our home as cleaning solution. It is the most common substance used in drinking water and swimming pool treatment. Chlorine in powder or fluid form such as sodium hypochlorite (bleach) may turn into gas if mixed with acidic or ammonia agent.Chlorine gas is a powerful irritant that can cause respiratory problem. In a high concentration it can cause death due to severe lung tissue damage.

Possible sources may come from:

  • Household accidents due to mixing of bleach with acidic agents
  • Leaking from transportation vehicle
  • Leaking from storage tank in places like water treatment plant, sewage treatment plant, swimming pool
  • Release from industrial bleaching operations
  • Chemical warfare

Symptoms

How do I know that I’m suffering from chlorine gas poisoning?

Upon exposure to chlorine gas, you may experience symptoms as follow :

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Burning sensation in the throat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Ocular and nasal irritation
  • Choking
  • Abdominal discomfort
  • Headache

Complication

What are the worst conditions can occur due to chlorine gas poisoning?

  • High-level exposure may damage lung tissue resulting in death.

Prevention

How can I prevent chlorine gas poisoning from happening to my family and myself?

Here are some prevention tips:

Do

  • Make sure you understand the warning sign if the chlorine gas release occur.
  • Move away and get to fresh air.
  • Go to the higher places, because chlorine is heavier than air and will sink to low-lying areas.
  • Keep your self calm; avoid panic
  • Remove your cloths if severely contaminated
  • Wash your body part soap and water if contaminated with chlorine
  • Stop smoking
  • Rinse your eyes with plain water for 10 to 15 minutes if your eyes are burning or your vision is blurred.

Don’t

  • Enter chlorine gas storage or operation area without safety cloths.
  • Mix bleach with acid or ammonia agents
  • Move to lower ground areas during the gas release
  • Put back your contact lens if your eye are contaminated

Seek medical advice immediately if you experience any symptom mentioned above.

Who should I consult?

Further information can be obtained from your doctor at;

Environmental Health Unit
Disease Control Division
Ministry of Health Putrajaya, Malaysia

Futher reading

http://www.diseasesdatabase.com/umlsdef.asp?glngUserChoice=2423

http://www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic851.htm

http://www.bt.cdc.gov/agent/chlorine/basics/facts.asp

Last Reviewed : 26 April 2012
Writer : Dr. Norlen Mohamed
Reviewer : Dr. Marzida Abd Latib