When combined with certain household products, the main ingredient of bleach, sodium hypochlorite, can create strong toxic gasses and fumes. Apply extreme caution when using bleach, especially when cleaning a urinal and the surrounding bathroom floors and surfaces. If you are using additional bathroom cleaners near the bleach, read the label of the cleaner to determine whether it contains specific ingredients that are harmful when combined with bleach.
Ammonia and Bleach
While cleaning with or disposing bleach and ammonia together, you can create the harmful toxic gas known as chloramines. Avoid spilling bleach onto the surrounding bricks or concrete areas of the urinal or floor as they may contain a previous cleaner that will create this lethal gas once exposed to the bleach. Some drain cleaners and calcium removal products can also create this gas with bleach even when applied to the urinal previously.
Bleach and Acids
Mixing bleach with toilet bowl and urinal cleaners containing ammonia will produce toxic chlorine gas. When rinsing the urinal with water and these chemicals, the production of hydrochloric and hypochlorous gas will occur. While eliminating this hazard by purposely avoiding the use of bleach and ammonia together may seem simple, ammonia is an ingredient in a wide variety of products. Paints and other cleaners may contain ammonia and will activate this gas upon contact. Ammonia is even present in human and animal urine. When cleaning urinals specifically, scrub and rinse them with water beforehand to eliminate any ammonia-containing urine the bleach may contact.
Chloramines, chlorine, hydrochloric and hypochlorous gasses cause respiratory issues in people who encounter them. These effects may include nausea, vomiting, chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing and other respiratory problems. Overexposure of these toxic combinations may lead to death within 30 minutes to one hour. If the toxic fumes are high enough, only a few breathes can lead to the death of those breathing the fumes.
If you accidentally mix the bleach with ammonia or acids, leave the area immediately. Stop using the cleaning products if you begin to experience any of the side effects for toxic gases created by a bleach combination. Contact poison control immediately, and list all chemicals you were using along with any previously used chemicals. Poison control will help to determine if the mixture created toxic gas and the procedure or contact information for clearing the area of these gasses. Contact poison control at 1-800-222-1222.
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