The risk of ill health or poisoning from toxic cleaning products, although rare, can happen, especially when cleaning for long periods of time and in confined areas.
It was reported on the 9th July that a woman in her 30s from Madrid died of apparent intoxication after spending two hours cleaning her kitchen with a solution containing ammonia. She had called for medical support but sadly, by the time it arrived, she had suffered cardiac arrest and was later pronounced dead at the scene.
It is not known if the ammonia-based product came into contact with any other cleaning agents at this stage, but this sad news highlights the dangers of prolonged cleaning using chemicals with toxic side effects. It also highlights the importance of understanding the chemicals you are using and their potential reactions with their surroundings and other chemicals in the atmosphere.
It is often reported in the news that yet another person has fallen victim to poisoning from cleaning products when they have indirectly created deadly fumes. This can easily happen through cross contamination of standard cleaning products, accidentally creating chlorine gas by mixing bleach and ammonia products together, or simply through excessive use of aggressive cleaning agents.
But not all illness can come from the products themselves, it can also simply be the area you are cleaning. This comes only a few months after ten people were admitted to hospital in Oxfordshire after cleaning a fish tank. During cleaning, a dangerous compound, palytoxin, was inadvertently released from the aquarium coral after it was disturbed. Again, this re-iterates the importance of complete awareness for your surroundings, the area you are cleaning, and an understanding of the dangers involved before carrying out any clean.
Risk of adverse side effects are also increased if you suffer from allergies or asthma, so all care labels should be read, understood and all precautions necessary should be put in place. It is recommended to work in a well-ventilated area, wearing the correct PPE and to take regular breaks away from the task to prevent over exposure or any reaction to fumes.
The news of another poisoning from cleaning products is incredibly tragic to read about, and education, along with using safer formulations is becoming increasingly important, in order to prevent situations like this from happening again.
To read more on the dangers of mixing cleaning chemicals, you can read our previous blog post ‘Why you should never mix cleaning chemicals’ here.