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July 16, 1982

Pneumomediastinum: A Complication of Chlorine Exposure From Mixing Household Cleaning Agents

JAMA. 1982;248(3):349-350. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330030055026

HOMEMADE mixtures of dilute hypochlorite solution with other acidic household chemicals may liberate substantial amounts of chlorine gas. In our experience, the most common domestic combination is a mixture of bleach with lavatory cleaners, usually hydrochloric acid. The growing incidence of mixing household cleaning agents has been noted previously.1 The purpose of this report is to draw attention to a possible hazard of such practice. We describe two cases of pneumomediastinum with subcutaneous emphysema following inhalation of chlorine gas liberated from a mixture of 5% sodium hypochlorite with 10% hydrochloric acid.

Report of Cases 

Case 1.—  A 27-year-old man was brought to the emergency ward following exposure to gas liberated from a mixture of household cleaners. Four hours before admission, he had mixed 1 L of 5% sodium hypochlorite with 1 L of 10% hydrochloric acid in a large aquarium he meant to clean. He immediately experienced a burning