Chlorine is a yellowish, green-colored gas at room temperature with a unique pungent odor. It is widely used as a water disinfectant and as a bleaching agent in the production of paper and cloth. Besides these, it is also used in household bleach and in the manufacturing of chlorides, pesticides, polymers, synthetic rubbers, and refrigerators. Though it is widely used in chemical industries and in households, still, exposure to large doses can be extremely poisonous to the body. It is slightly soluble in water and reacts with moisture to form hypochlorous acid (HClO) and hydrochloric acid (HCl), two extremely poisonous compounds. In this article, you will learn about the different chlorine poisoning symptoms and their effects.
It can occur due to direct and indirect exposure to chlorine gas, which is one of the largest volume gases produced in the United States. Since its widespread use in industries, its exposure can occur due to accidental spills or releases, or in the worst case, even from terrorist attacks. It can also result from coming in direct contact with bleach products that are used in our daily household chores. It is worst when the gas enters the body through the respiratory passage. Chlorine poisoning from swimming pool is often due to the uncontrolled addition of chlorine tablets in the swimming pool. Besides these, food or water contaminated with this element can be accidentally consumed by some people leading to severe poisoning from this lethal gas.
This gas has a pungent and irritating odor. It is extremely difficult to breathe in an area where this gas has leaked accidentally. Many people may also develop sore throat, that can cause breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the lungs may experience pulmonary edema. Pulmonary edema is a condition of the lungs in which there is a fluid accumulation in the lungs, due to impaired gas exchange. In pulmonary edema, the person may face difficulty in breathing accompanied by excessive sweating, pale skin, and anxiety.
Blood and Other Facial Parts
This condition can lead to drastic changes in the pH level of the blood, which is dangerous for various other organs of the body. For eyes and other facial parts, it can lead to loss of vision and there can be severe burning sensation in the ears, throat, and nose.
Effect on the Gastrointestinal Tract
It leads to burns in the esophagus and causes severe pain in the abdomen. Ingestion of chlorine can also lead to excessive vomiting and blood in the stool.
Skin is the most sensitive organ in the body and exposure to chlorine gas is easily evident on the skin. Skin irritation with burns and rashes are also some common signs.
- Seek medical help and follow the first aid instructions immediately.
- If the symptoms are on the skin or in the eyes, flush a lot of water on the affected area for 10 - 15 minutes.
- If the person has inhaled the poisonous gas, move him / her to a fresh air environment, immediately.
- If one experiences leakage of the gas from some factory or some place, immediately move away from the place and inform the concerned authorities. Call the emergency co-coordinators who will ask you to evacuate the area or seek shelter indoors, so that the exposure to chemical is avoided, possibly to a large extent.
As such, there is no particular antidote for chlorine treatment, however, chlorine poisoning symptoms can be controlled and many people recover from it after receiving hospital care.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.