Household poisonings are on the rise: why you shouldn’t mix bleach with ammonia

The Toxicological Information Service of the National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences has detected during the coronavirus pandemic an increase in the incidence of telephone inquiries by poisonings managed and related to cleaning product mix in the homes.

During the month of March and the first two weeks of April, the doctors of the Toxicological Information Service have attended a total of 11,337 telephone inquiries, which represents an increase in 1,655 calls (almost 15%) compared to the same period in 2019.

Of all these consultations, 1,846 are related to poisonings due to the use of bleaches and other surface disinfectants, which account for 55.6% of household cleaning products.

Beware of these cleaning habits: products that we mix or misuse and can be dangerous

Ammonia bleach

In 26.1% of cases, the bleach mixed with other products, mainly ammonia, although also others like salfumant, vinegar, alcohol, antiscale, household cleaner and dishwasher.

As explained by the National Institute of Toxicology and Forensic Sciences, which depends on the Ministry of Justice, this increase in telephone consultations seems to be related to the current desire to eliminate the coronavirus in the domestic sphere.

However, the institute warns that the association of various household cleaning products may be responsible for toxicological pictures, both at the respiratory level with symptoms such as rhinitis, pharyngeal irritation, laryngeal irritation, cough or dyspnea, and dermatologically with symptoms related to skin irritation, itching, flushing or inflammation.

Second degree burn

Skin irritation and burns

In the case of mixing bleaches with ammonia, which is the most common, a chemical reaction occurs that generates a gas called chloramine (NH2Cl), which is highly toxic, and when it comes into contact with the mucous membranes it decomposes to produce hydrochloric acid that it is toxic and highly corrosive, causing irritation of the mucous membranes and skin burns.

Therefore, the Toxicological Information Service recommends, to prevent this type of poisoning, avoid mixing cleaning products and follow the recommendations established by the Ministry of Health for cleaning in the domestic environment and the prevention of coronavirus infections.

The Toxicological Information Service operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year on the phone 91 562 04 20.