Florida Public Health Review

Publication Date

April 2012


Acute and chronic effects of exposure to chlorine and chloramines can result in the irritation of the skin and mucous mem- branes, often leading to airway edema resulting in respiratory difficulties, burning in the throat, eyes and nose. Ingestion of bleach or bleach-containing products often results in adverse gastrointestinal effects. Data captured by the three centers com- prising the Florida Poison Information Center Network (FPICN) between 2006 and 2008 was examined to characterize the extent oftoxic effects from chlorine gas exposures related to misuse ofhousehold cleaners. A known outcome was determined in 48.4% of the 5315 cases. Of those with a known outcome, 0.2% (6) had a major effect. Children two and younger were the most frequently exposed population (22.7%). Children 19 and under accounted for 39.1% (2079), whereas children 2 and under accounted for 22.7% (1204) of the chlorine exposure population. Container confusion accounted for 12%, and mixing cleaning products accounted for 17% of the cases reviewed in 2006. The most common route of exposure in cases reviewed in 2006 was by-mouth and the most common symptom was gastrointestinal (GI). Fact sheets and educational outreach related to reducing the mixing of household cleaners, reading manufacturers safety instructions carefully, and storing the chemical clean- ers safely away from children and in original containers is warranted to reduce chlorine exposures in children.