Read This Before Deciding to Use Bleach

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Sodium hypochlorite (bleach) is a halogen with a broad spectrum of activity that works by oxidation, denaturing proteins. Household bleach concentrations vary from 2% to 6%.

  • A 1:32 concentration (about 1600 ppm) is normally recommended for general disinfection, but levels as high as 1:10 are recommended for ringworm (microsporum canis), and 1:9 (5600 ppm or 14 oz/gallon) for Tuberculosis.
  • Kate Hurley of UC Davis recommends the following formula for determining correct 1:32 dilutions: 21 divided by the % active = the # of ounces of solution per gallon of water.
  • Bleach is significantly inactivated by organic matter, light, and extended storage.
  • Because bleach degrades so quickly, the EPA requires special labeling language stating the following: “Degrades with age”.
  • Because liquid bleach is so unstable, it needs to be stabilized by adding lye, a very corrosive chemical, resulting in a high pH of 11.5. Therefore bleach is very corrosive.
  • Because of its instability and quick inactivation, bleach solutions should be discarded every couple of hours.
  • Bleach loses its content continuously from the moment of manufacture, losing up to half its active by the time of purchase within 60 days of being manufactured.
  • When using bleach, pre-cleaning is necessary, and it must remain in contact with surfaces for 10 to 30 minutes.
  • There is no sustained release of active.
  • In bleach, 2 forms of free chlorine are present in a pH dependent equilibrium. The more potent of the two is HOCL- (hypochlorous acid), found only in trace amounts when a solution has a pH of 9.0 or higher. Because bleach has a pH of 11.5, not much HOCL- is actually available as a disinfectant. Instead what’s mostly present is the less-effective form of free chlorine, OCL- (the hypochlorite ion). Unfortunately the OCL- is 120 times less effective than HOCL- as a disinfectant. This is why bleach often experiences failures in eliminating dangerous pathogens like hepatitis and parvovirus, and it’s also why high levels and strict controls are required for confidence when using bleach as a disinfectant.
  • Bleach is a very potent mucous membrane, tissue, and upper respiratory irritant.
  • Bleach should never mix with acids, as toxic chlorine gas will be released.
  • A movement is gaining momentum where States and Municipalities are moving away from (discouraging) chlorine use due to the formation of carcinogenic byproducts and volatile organic compounds (VOC’s).
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