Sodium perborate monohydrate serves as a bleaching agent for clothes, dentures and hair. Its antiseptic properties make it a good ingredient in a mouthwash, and dentists use it to whiten teeth. Alternative substances are available.
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According to the "Opinion on Sodium Perborate and Perboric Acid" of the European Commission, sodium perborate monohydrate releases hydrogen peroxide. It is toxic when ingested, mildly irritating to the skin, acutely irritating to the eyes and potentially harmful to children in their mother's womb. The use of sodium perborate monohydrate also creates waste disposal problems since boron products harm some plants.
Sodium perborate tetrahydrate is an alternative bleaching agent that releases less hydrogen peroxide than sodium perborate monohydrate, but it is less effective as bleach. Sodium percarbonate, another alternative bleaching agent especially for clothing, does not harm the environment when discarded. It is more convenient to use because it releases oxygen at a lower temperature than sodium perborate monohydrate. Another bleaching agent is calcium peroxide.
Carbamide peroxide, also called urea hydrogen peroxide, is an alternative to sodium perborate monohydrate for whitening teeth. However, it also uses hydrogen peroxide as a whitening agent. Baking soda will also whiten teeth.
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