Last week, my wife decided to deep clean our bathroom before some guests came for the weekend. She first cleaned the tub/shower with a standard commercial shower cleaner. Then she decided to follow that up with a wash of diluted bleach. (Before you ask, no, this is not a story about me in which I change the names and blame chemical the mishap on my wonderful wife!)
I knew she was cleaning the bathroom, but I was unaware that any chemical mixing was to take place. I was elsewhere in the house when she then mentioned she felt a tingling sensation in her throat. Once she told me what she had done, I informed her that she had inadvertently created chlorine gas, a lethal chemical weapon used in World War I. I immediately ventilated the area. And, just for good measure, I called poison control.
We were both fine, as was our dog, but my wife was astonished that what she thought of as common household chemicals could be used to create poisonous gas. To be completely honest, I'm not even sure why we have the bleach at home.
So now seems as good a time as any to share this: Chem 101: What you need to know about active ingredients. If, as a janitor, you are unsure of the hazards of chemical mixing, the best solution is to a) don't do it, and b) consult your distributor or the manufacturer.
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