Danger of exposure to hazardous chlorine gas

The New Straits Times, June 19,1995

Q: The recent gas-leak incident in Ipoh appeared to shoe the poisonous effects of chlorine gas. Can I know what these effects are?

A: As reported in the newspapers, about 30 victims were admitted to the hospital following exposure to chlorine gas.

The gas has an irritating odour with a high solubility in water forming hydrochloric acid.

Exposure to the gas produces an immediate burning sensation of the eyes, nose and throat with tearing, running nose, sneezing, coughing, choking and chest pain.

Wheezing may also occur if the victim suffers from asthma.

These effects can be seen at an air concentration of about 25 ppm.

The gas can also cause a delayed effect in the form of severe breathing difficulties and pneumonia.

If an exposure occurs under a high concentration of chlorine gas, lung obstruction may occur and this condition may prove fatal.

Besides the gas being used in the pure state for industrial purposes, chlorine is used widely in the home in the form of hypochlorite as a bleaching, disinfectant and cleaning agent.

Most household bleach solutions contain 3-5 per cent hypochlorite and chlorine gas will be liberated from these preparations if an acid is added to them.

Extra precaution should thus be taken.

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