Chlorine is an element found in many household products, especially bleach, cleaners and swimming pool water. Inhaling or ingesting concentrated chlorine can irreversibly damage the lungs and other organs. Liquid chlorine can cause severe burns to the eyes and skin. Chlorine gas has been used as a chemical weapon.
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Identify the symptoms of chlorine poisoning. Inhaling chlorine commonly causes respiratory difficulties, along with severe burning of the eyes, ears, nose and throat. It may also produce swelling in the throat and fluid in the lungs. Ingesting chlorine results in gastrointestinal problems such as abdominal pain, burning in the esophagus and vomiting.
Treat exposure of the skin or eyes to chlorine by flushing with plenty of water for at least 15 minutes. Move the patient into fresh air in cases involving inhaled chlorine.
Administer water or milk for cases of ingested chlorine if the patient is able to swallow without difficulty. Ingesting chlorine can cause convulsions, vomiting and reduced alertness.
Handle chlorine poisoning by ingestion in an emergency room setting. Insert a nasograstic tube through the nose to perform a gastric lavage. Activated charcoal also is effective in absorbing chlorine. Remove the patient's clothing if is contaminated with liquid chlorine.
Provide treatment for inhaled chlorine in the emergency room. Provide supplemental oxygen and administer beta agonists, such as albuterol and ipratropium at first. Non-responsive patients also should receive aminophylline or terbutaline. Use a 4-percent solution of nebulized lidocaine as an analgesic agent and to reduce coughing.
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