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December 4, 1972

Chlorine Poisoning From Mixing Household Cleaners

JAMA. 1972;222(10):1312. doi:10.1001/jama.1972.03210100060033

To the Editor.—  Untoward effects stemming from the mixing of common household cleaners may include acute chlorine poisoning, a fact evidently better known to housewives than to physicians, and emphasized more in ladies' magazines than in scientific publications.1 My experience with an elderly woman who developed near fatal pulmonary edema within minutes after cleaning her bathtub with a mixture of two ubiquitous household products prompted this report.

Report of a Case.—  This 83-year-old diabetic woman was admitted with severe pulmonary edema. Her symptoms had developed abruptly half an hour earlier while she was cleaning her bathtub. Provoked by a stubborn stain unresponsive to soap, she had emptied into the tub about a half gallon of undiluted Clorox (an aqueous solution of 5.25% sodium hypochlorite) and thereupon added most of a can of Sani-Flush, a dry powder for cleaning toilets that contains 80% sodium bisulfate. Almost immediately she experienced intense