Ammonia-based chemicals, Acid-based chemicals and Bleach-based products are the standard products of traditional cleaning services. Individually these products are dangerous enough, but when they are intentionally or inadvertently mixed, they can cause tragic and fatal results.
Unfortunately, cleaners sometimes seek to create a “stronger” cleaning mixture to either ease the cleaning effort or to tackle tougher than expected cleaning tasks. Consistent use of these products creates an aura of familiarity and workers are always seeking faster and better ways to clean.
A bleach product mixed with an acid-containing toilet bowl cleaner can cause the release of deadly chlorine gas. If bleach is mixed with an ammonia-based cleaning agent, dangerous chloramine gases are created. These gases are not contained in the area in which the composition was created. Instead, they travel throughout the building and on occasion have found their way into heating and cooling systems.
It is easy to say that proper training of cleaning personnel could have prevented this incident. That is true. However, hindsight is always 20/20. The real question is why the possibility of this accident existed in the first place. These products are not necessary to keep a building clean and safe for workers and occupants alike.
Persons exposed to these gases should be moved out into the fresh air immediately. Exposure to any of these gases can cause a violent reaction. The seriousness of the effects depends upon the amount of time the sufferer was exposed to the gas and the strength of the mixture. Individuals with significant exposure to skin should remove clothes and have them washed immediately.
Many of today’s green cleaning products do not smell as powerful as bleach or ammonia-based products. They necessitate proper dilutions and a good amount of cleaning effort. However, they are safe and sustainable and designed to counter the “sick building syndrome” that contributes to lost time and money. Yes, green cleaning may cause less shine, but it is healthy and safe and productive alternative.