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Chlorine Poisoning?

  1. May 21, 2005 #1
    Chlorine Poisoning??

    I use liberal doses of boric acid in my shed for insect control. I also store household bleach in the shed for well water treatment. Spilled about a gallon of it on the shed floor which I proceded to wipe up. Soon I was almost overcome by the fumes, and the rag became very warm. I didn't think this would be a dangerous combination, was I wrong?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 21, 2005 #2
    Chlorine = Mustard Gas

    Chlorine is also known as Mustard Gas (WWI) Without the boric acid you would still have a bad dose of poisoning in an enclosed area. We're still using up the stock-pile of Mustard gas from WWI in the community swimming pools. Some old guy with a pointy helmet sold it to North American cities as a good way to swiftly kill unsightly bacteria in water and slowly fill North American hospitals with respiratory and other organ failures. Try ozone treatments for your water as well as running your water through UV light. This is more effective than Chlorine without the damage to sensitive tissues.
  4. May 21, 2005 #3
    Err umm no. Mustard gas is dichloroethyl sulphide.
  5. May 22, 2005 #4


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    Yeah, chlorine is not the same as mustard gas. The two were often used in combination during WWI though, but they are very different.

    I think that most household bleaches contain a fair amount of sodium hydroxide in addition to the sodium hypochlorite, which is the active ingredient. I would expect an acid-base reaction is responsible for the heat you observed. The heat could cause an increased release of Cl2, but probably not all that much. If all the symptoms have passed you'll probably be fine, but it's probably not a bad idea to see a doctor anyway. As for cleanup, the acid-base reaction is done by now, so you could clean it now, but don't spend to long a period of time in the shed. Maybe work in 3-5 minute intervals, taking a break to get some fresh air.
  6. May 22, 2005 #5
    Thanks for the correction!
  7. May 22, 2005 #6
    I wasn't too far off here, mind you.

    "Introduction of Poison Gas

    The debut of the first poison gas however - in this instance, chlorine - came on 22 April 1915, at the start of the Second Battle of Ypres."

    Like I said, wanna buy some slightly used chlorine for the kiddies?
  8. Feb 6, 2008 #7
    One should NEVER mix concentrated acid with concentrated chlorine. Chlorine gas is liberated via the following equation:

    HOCl + H+ + Cl- --> Cl2(g) + H2O
    Hypochlorous Acid + Hydrogen Ion + Chloride Ion --> Chlorine Gas + Water

    Bleach and chlorinating liquid contain hypochlorite ion and chloride so the reaction may be more properly written as:

    OCl- + 2H+ + Cl- --> Cl2(g) + H2O
    Hypochlorite Ion + Hydrogen Ion + Chloride Ion --> Chlorine Gas + Water

    Bleach and chlorinating liquid do contain a small amount of excess sodium hydroxide (lye), but it isn't very much. The high pH of bleach and chlorinating liquid comes from the production of sodium hypochlorite which is done via addition of chlorine into a solution of sodium hydroxide (lye) as follows:

    Cl2(g) + 2OH- --> OCl- + Cl- + H2O
    Chlorine Gas + Hydroxyl Ion --> Hypochlorite Ion + Chloride Ion + Water

    A small amount of excess lye (beyond that shown in the above equation) is used in this process to have the pH be a little higher for greater stability of the bleach or chlorinating liquid, but in doing calculations for how much this changes the pH of pool or spa water, the excess lye is negligible and the primary pH rising effect comes from having so much hypochlorite ion in the water which raises pH due to the following equilibrium:

    OCl- + H2O <--> HOCl + OH-
    Hypochlorite Ion + Water <--> Hypochlorous Acid + Hydroxyl Ion

    That is, the amount of hypochlorite ion in bleach and chlorinating liquid is vastly greater than the amount of hydroxyl ion so the hypochlorite can be considered to be the source of the high pH in calculations (my spreadsheet does account for the excess lye, but the effect is small -- see the PoolEquations link at the end of the first post in http://www.troublefreepools.com/viewtopic.php?t=628 [Broken] for more details).

    Last edited by a moderator: May 3, 2017
  9. Feb 6, 2008 #8


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