Rest home evacuated after cleaning chemical reaction

23rd of May 2014
Rest home evacuated after cleaning chemical reaction

A chemical reaction between two cleaning substances recently resulted in a New Zealand rest home having to be partially evacuated.

And in a second case highlighting the danger of mixing cleaning products, an elderly woman in the US lost her life due to toxic fumes.

Two incompatible cleaning products were accidentally mixed together in a 20-litre container at a rest home in Wellington, New Zealand. The mix set off a heat reaction and firefighters were called to the scene. However, an explosion was eventually averted by hazard control teams who managed to reduce the pressure in the container.

No one was hurt in the incident, but the rest home had to be partially evacuated along with a house adjoining the premises.

And in another incident this spring, 75-year-old Anna Harbeson died as a result of cleaning her bathroom at home. The resident of Maryland in the US had been exposed to toxic fumes formed by a combination of cleaning chemicals according to Bruce Anderson from the Maryland Poison Centre.

"If you mix together a product that contains bleach with a product that is very acidic, you can actually release a type of chlorine gas similar to the gas used to clear out the trenches in World War I," said Anderson.

He urges people to avoid mixing cleaning products and adds that typical signs of overexposure to toxic fumes include shortness of breath, tightness of the chest and burning of the eyes, nose and throat.


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