Scratch bleach off the shopping list. Bleach fumes, in combination with compounds in many household products, form harmful airborne particles…

If you clean your bathroom and tiled floors with bleach, you could be endangering your health.

New research has discovered that bleach fumes, in combination with light and a citrus compound found in many household products, can form airborne particles that might be harmful when inhaled by pets or people.

The science behind harmful cleaning products

Bleach cleaning products emit chlorine-containing compounds, such as hypochlorous acid (HOCl) and chlorine gas (Cl2), that can accumulate to relatively high levels in poorly ventilated indoor environments.

These gases can react with chemicals commonly found in homes, such as limonene – an orange- or lemon-scented compound added to many personal care products, cleaners and air fresheners.

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In addition, indoor lighting or sunshine through windows might split HOCl and Cl2 into a hydroxyl radical and a chlorine atom, which can react with other compounds to form air particles called secondary organic aerosols (SOAs).

These pollutants have been linked to respiratory problems and other adverse health effects.

Could your washing machine be harbouring pathogens?

What happens when limonene and bleach fumes meet

The researchers wanted to see whether limonene and bleach fumes, at concentrations likely to occur in indoor environments, could react to produce SOAs under light and dark conditions.

The researchers added limonene, HOCl and Cl2 to air in an environmental chamber and then measured the reaction products using mass spectrometry.

In the dark, limonene and HOCl/Cl2 quickly reacted to produce a variety of volatile compounds.

When the team turned on fluorescent lights or exposed the chamber to sunlight, these volatile compounds interacted with the light-generated hydroxyl radicals and chlorine atoms to form SOAs.

While more research is required, it’s safe to say that it may be time to clean with natural products.

Source: American Chemical Society via

While All4Women endeavours to ensure health articles are based on scientific research, health articles should not be considered as a replacement for professional medical advice. Should you have concerns related to this content, it is advised that you discuss them with your personal healthcare provider.