This is the reason why chlorine and chlorine bleach account for more accidental poisoning deaths per year than any other substance.
Chlorine bleach poisoning is cited as the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths per year. In a single year, poison control centers receive reports of over 50,000 cases of chlorine bleach poisonings leading to at least eight deaths. Some reported cases of accidental ingestion every year are suicides or homicides or attempted suicides or homicides, and other cases are the result of mixing pool chemicals or overuse of chlorine bleach in pools. These staggering facts lead one to be confused about whether or not people realize that household bleach and chlorine for pools are toxic, poisonous, and powerful. In the case of homicidal use of chlorine or bleach, the killers or would-be killers are painfully aware that chlorine is an effective killer. But in the many cases where someone dies from inhaling chlorine gas while cleaning a pool, it seems that these accident victims are unaware how deadly the substance truly is.
Chlorine: the number one cause of accidental poisoning deaths per year
In my research, many sites describe chlorine as “dangerous but necessary” for pool water treatment. Why? Because chlorine is, at its core, a killer of organisms. Chlorine dissolves organic matter into mush. In concentrated form it would dissolve any living tissues it comes in contact with. Why, then, are people able to swim in pools that have chlorine in them? In most bleach bottles or chlorine tanks (not concentrated pool shock treatment or other more concentrated forms), there is only a 0-1% solution of chlorine diluted in water. This solution is powerful enough in 1% solution to kill any micro-organisms that live in or would try to grow in something like a pool. The more chlorine that is added to a pool, the more poisonous, necrotic, corrosive, and deadly it becomes to human tissue. It would not take much chlorine, diluted in another liquid, to kill a person. This is the reason why chlorine and chlorine bleach account for more accidental poisoning deaths per year than any other substance.
Chlorine in pool water and chlorine bleach as a cleaner/whitener
In several cases, deaths result from mixing too much chlorine in a pool (instead of a 1% solution of chlorine, 3-10% levels are added). This seems like it would be easy enough to do by mistake, but using too much chlorine or bleach is not even necessary to kill a person. Several other cases have been reported in which persons were working with bleach, household cleaners, or other pool cleaners in normal amounts, and died from “bleach poisoning.” Thus, even small amounts of chlorine are dangerous enough to kill you. The bottom line is, chlorine, the ingredient in bleach that only accounts for about 1% of the bleach itself, is used because it is an effective dissolver of organic materials. If you put it in your pool, put it on your clothes, or come in contact with it in any way, it will cause irritation at the site of contact at very diluted levels and will decompose your very being at concentrated levels. To say that it should be handled with care is an understatement. Consider your uses for chlorine and chlorine bleach, and then look at the alternatives. There are alternative clothes-whiteners and cleaners that are more affordable and effective than diluted chlorine bleach. There are pool treatment systems that are more affordable, non-toxic, and more effective than chlorine. Based on this knowledge, if you have safer, more effective, and more affordable alternatives to chlorine (and its likelihood of accidentally killing you or a loved one), why not use them?