Sodium hypochlorite (chemical formula; NaClO), appears as white crystals with an unpleasant odour. It is soluble in cold water, however it decomposes in hot water. It is a strong oxidising agent that is highly unstable when exposed to the air unless it is mixed with sodium hydroxide.
Sodium hypochlorite has many uses including:
The routes of exposure for sodium hypochlorite include inhalation, ingestion and skin and eye contact.
Inhalation of sodium hypochlorite may cause respiratory irritation. Individuals with existing respiratory diseases such as emphysema and chronic bronchitis as well as circulatory/nervous system or kidney damage, may incur further disablement if excessive concentrations are inhaled. The chemical releases toxic chlorine gas when mixed with acids or when heated to at least 40°C. This gas can cause coughing, choking, difficulty breathing, headaches, vomiting, chest pain, fluid in the lungs, chest infection and loss of consciousness. Long term exposure can cause corrosion to the teeth, irritate the nose and also increase the chances of developing tuberculosis.
Ingestion of sodium hypochlorite can cause serious chemical burns in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract, stomach cramping, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, pain and inflammation of the mouth and stomach, low blood pressure, shock and confusion. Severe cases of poisoning can lead to convulsions, coma and even death.
Skin exposure to the chemical may produce severe chemical burns, inflammation, dry skin, bleaching, itchiness, lesions and mild eczema. Entry into the bloodstream through open cuts and wounds may also lead to other harmful effects.
Eye exposure may cause severe chemical burns to the eyes. Chemical vapours and mists will also be very irritating and damaging to the eye.
If inhaled, remove the patient from the contaminated area to the nearest fresh air source. Lay the patient down and ensure they are kept warm and rested. If the patient is not breathing and you are qualified to do so, perform CPR (preferably with a bag-valve mask device). Seek immediate medical attention.
If swallowed, urgent hospital treatment will likely be necessary. In the meantime, qualified personnel should observe and treat the patient. The patient should rinse their mouth out with and slowly drink some water. Vomiting should not be induced, but if vomiting does occur, ensure the patient is leaned forward or placed on their left side to avoid aspiration. Seek immediate medical attention.
If skin exposure occurs, remove all contaminated clothing and footwear and immediately flush the affected area with plenty of running water (using a safety shower if possible). Seek immediate medical attention.
If the chemical is exposed to the eyes, flush the eyes out with water for at least 15 minutes, remembering to wash under the eyelids. Contact lenses should only be removed by a skilled professional. Seek immediate medical attention.
Emergency eyewash fountains and safety showers should be available in the event of a potential exposure event and there should always be adequate ventilation to remove or dilute any air contaminants to prevent overexposure (install local exhaust if necessary).
The PPE recommended when handling sodium hypochlorite includes safety glasses with unperforated side shields, chemical goggles, gas masks, elbow length PVC gloves, PVC aprons/protective suits and overalls.
Always take the necessary precautions when handling sodium hypochlorite, ensuring comprehensive PPE is worn to keep you out of harm’s way. Click here for a trial of our SDS Management Software or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about our chemicals management solutions.