Household cleaning comes with the responsibility and tasking chore of getting rid of offensive odors, stubborn stains, and brighter and cleaner fabrics or materials. From natural and homemade cleaning remedies to commercial cleaning essentials, many products promise effective cleaning at all times irrespective of the fact that some have toxic ingredients that are very harmful to human and environmental health.
Some of such cleaning ingredients include bleach and ammonia. While there are definitely pros to using these ingredients– due to their potency to spot-treat stains on fabrics, rid household surfaces of tough stains, remove burned-on food, clean glass furniture without causing streaks, whiten and change the color of materials, and more – they are also adverse-effects-causing-chemicals with harmful toxins to the human health and the environment at large.
A 2006 study showed that over 120,000 children below age 5 were adversely affected by incidents involving chemical household cleaners. This only proves to show that the cons of using chemical-based cleaners like ammonia and bleach should not be ignored, especially if you have kids and pets.
Keep reading to know why bleach and ammonia are bad for humans and the environment.
Ammonia (NH3) is a colorless gaseous chemical compound composed of nitrogen in one part and hydrogen in three parts. Ammonia is a naturally occurring compound in humans by the deamination of amino acids (essential for metabolism) and in the environment from bacteria action on organic matter, which exposes us to low-level ammonia. Artificially, it is used in producing industrial and household cleaning solutions, fertilizers, and more.
Bleach is a corrosive substance high in sodium hypochlorite or chlorine used in household cleaning, fabric whitening, stain removal, disinfecting, sterilizing, and sanitizing.
Breathing the vapors of ammonia and bleach for an extended period may cause respiratory tract issues and asthma flares, harm the lung tissues, and cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat.
Research shows that the Agricultural sector of the UK produced 82% of ammonia emissions in the UK. Intense agricultural practices like using fertilizers containing high concentrations of ammonia cause excess emission of ammonia and nitrogen deposits, which harm vegetation and wildlife sensitive to ammonia. It can also cause cardiovascular issues when it interacts with other atmospheric gases. When ammonia and bleach come in contact with water (like when used to clean toilets and sinks and such water travels back down to the rivers and streams), it harms aquatic life.
Nausea, vomiting, swelling, inflammation, and more are some of the things that can happen from the ingestion of bleach. Inhaling bleach fumes is also known to cause respiratory burns, migraines, cancer, coma, and in extreme cases, deaths from the accumulation of dioxins created by sodium hypochlorite (the active compound in bleach).
Ingesting ammonia is likely to cause mouth and throat burn, shock, convulsion, abdominal pain, and whatnot. The first step to take when accidental ingestion occurs is to drink milk or plenty of water to dilute the chemical. However, this doesn’t put you in the clear from medical attention.
On-skin contact with ammonia and bleach may lead to severe skin burns, blindness, and other eye damage. If it ever gets in direct contact with your skin, flush your skin or eyes with a large quantity of water while seeking professional medical help.
While using ammonia and bleach individually can cause some issues for you, as already explained above, combining these two gradients (or each with other acids like vinegar) will only result in very toxic environmental and health pollutants – chloramine gases. These gases can cause health issues from irritations to lung fluids and pneumonia.
Nonetheless, you may find out that getting your desired cleaning results may seem impossible except with these cleaning actives. We recommend using natural and homemade cleaning remedies that do the same work of effective cleaning like vinegar, baking soda, lemon, etc. If using bleach and ammonia is inevitable, always follow the product’s label’s instructions, wear protective coverings on your eyes and hands, actively see that your environment is properly ventilated, and avoid ingestion or contact with your skin.