Household bleach is corrosive but not usually dangerous if a person uses it according to the label.
The effects of exposure to bleach will vary depending on the part of the body it affects, the concentration of the bleach, the duration of the exposure, and the amount.
Exposure to bleach can affect these body areas in the following ways:
- Eyes: Exposure to bleach can make the eyes look red and feel irritated. The affected eye may tear up, and the person may experience blurry vision.
- Mouth and throat: The mouth and throat may feel irritated, but the bleach will not usually cause any severe damage.
- Skin: The skin may be irritated and look red.
- Stomach and gastrointestinal (GI) tract: It is unusual for bleach to damage the stomach or GI tract because they are very resilient to such substances.
- Lungs: Breathing in bleach fumes can irritate the lungs. For example, a person may experience bronchospasm. Bronchospasm causes the chest to feel tight and makes it hard for the person to catch their breath.
Exposure to bleach can be dangerous or even fatal if it mixes with other household chemicals. Bleach manufactured in countries outside of the United States may be even more dangerous due to the increased concentration.
For example, when combined with ammonia, bleach will create a toxic gas called chloramine. People can inhale the gas or absorb it through the skin. High levels of exposure to chloramine gas can be fatal.
Exposure to chloramine gas can cause many symptoms, including:
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