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Chlorine is a chemical often used in different cleaners and bleachers,since it is found to have very good anti-bacterial properties. In the body, thissubstance reacts with water and forms hypochlorous and hydrochloric acids,poisonous for humans.

A person may get poisoned by inhaling or swallowing chlorine.As the most common sources of this chemical, we know mild cleaners and bleachersin the household and water and tablets used in swimming pools. Chlorine canalso be found as gas, when mixing ammonia and cleaning products in powderedform, or after the winter, when the swimming pool gets opened for the firsttime.

How Chlorine Affects the Organism

Chlorine affects the airways and the lungs, eyes, ears, noseand throat, causing throat swelling and pain, breathing problems, burns inesophagus and even pulmonary edema. It can be responsible for gastrointestinaland blood problems, abdominal pain, vomiting, blood in the vomit or/and stooland can also damage blood vessels and heart. Chlorine also provokes seriouschange of acid levels in the blood, which damages all other organs in the body. Rapidhypotension, collapse, burns, irritation, skin problems and skin necrosis arealso potential dangers of chlorine poisoning.

How to React

If you have been exposed to chlorine you should callNational Poison Control Center 1-800-222-1222 or simply 911 for immediatemedical help. Follow their instructions and don’t make the poisoned personthrow up, unless the doctors over the phone told you to do so. You can alsocall national Poison Control Center to inform yourself about prevention oranything else about the poisoning.

However, if you are calling them to help someone who is poisoned with chlorine, before dialing the phone, always try to assess thesituation. They will probably ask you about the age, weight and condition ofthe patient, what and how much of the product(s) he/she swallowed or inhaled, andwhen that happened.

Chlorine on the skin should be rinsed with plenty of waterfor 15 minutes or more, while if a person swallowed this chemical he/she shouldtake some water or milk. Sometimes, poisoned person might vomit, experienceseizures or be unconscious – in these cases don’t force the patient to drinkanything. Person that inhaled chlorine must be taken to some fresh airinstantly.

What Will Happen in the Emergency Room?

Most commonly, doctors will check vital signs and measuretemperature, pulse, breathing rate, blood pressure. After that, poisoned personwill be treated for the symptoms. The treatment may include many differentmethods and therapies, including: activated charcoal, gastric lavage, antidoteto reverse effects of the poison, bronchoscopy or endoscopy, intravenousfluids, oxygen, irrigation of the skin or removal of the burned skin.

Patients who got medical help very quickly and swallowed (orinhaled) rather small amount of the poison always have better recovery chances.

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