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Dangers of Mixing Cleaning Chemicals

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Employees should be trained in the proper handling, use, and disposal of cleaning chemicals.  Mixing cleaning chemicals can produce toxic gases such as chlorine, nitrogen trichloride, and hydrazine.  Dangerous oxygen-free molecules can be released into the lungs.  These molecules can be especially hazardous in small areas with little ventilation or air movement, such as bathrooms and closets.  When inhaled, these gases may cause lung irritation, sore throat, headaches, breathing difficulty, and, when inhaled in large doses, even death.  There is seldom a need to mix cleaning products as there are specialized chemicals and cleaning agents available for nearly every task.

The following guidelines should be followed to help ensure safety: 

  1. Do not mix any cleaning products, especially those containing bleach.
  2. Train all employees about the dangers of mixing chemicals.  Train them in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard regarding proper reading of MSDS sheets, proper disposal of chemicals, proper recognition of exposure symptoms, and proper treatment procedures for exposure.
  3. If chlorine gas is accidentally released, evacuate the area until there has been a sufficient time for ventilation.  Do not re-open the area until the gas has been completely removed.  If employees are involved in the cleanup of the chemicals, make sure they wear the proper personal protective equipment and properly dispose of the chemicals.
  4. Always run clean water through a drain after flushing or rinsing cleaning products.  This will help prevent the formation of toxic gases from chemicals that could potentially mix in the drain pipe.
  5. Always handle chemicals with proper care and respect and utilize common sense to help protect yourself and others.

Kentucky Employers' Mutual Insurance

The information contained herein is to be used for informational purposes only and is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for proper training or supervision or manufacturers’ instructions and/or recommendations. It is not in any way intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from a physician or health care professional.  KEMI makes no recommendation or endorsement with regard to any medication or safety or medical procedure and does not assume liability for the content of this information.  Do not rely on this information as a substitute for seeking professional medical advice.  Do not disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained herein.   KEMI does not assume liability for the content of this information.  KEMI, by publication of this information, does not assume liability for damage or injury arising from reliance upon it.  Compliance with this information is not a guarantee or warranty that you will be in conformity with any laws or regulations nor does it ensure the absolute safety of any person, place or object, including, but not limited to, you, your occupation, employees, customers or place of business.  Safety and health remain your responsibility.

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