Sodium Hypochlorite

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Sodium hypochlorite is used as a disinfectant, bleach and cleaning solution. It is a strong oxidizer, and it decomposes in water to form sodium and chlorine ions as well as the potent oxigen radical (HO•). Hypochlorite is an effective germicide and bactericide in most conditions. It is also an effective deodorizer.

Sodium Hypochlorite is toxic if inhaled, swallowed or comes into contact with skin. It is a severe eye irritant and may cause burns. It may react violently with amines and ammonium salts and other organics to produce volatile chlorinated species such as dichloroform, trichloroform, carbon tetrachloride and hydrogen chloride. Sodium hypochlorite is corrosive to metals and rubber, but it is relatively non-corrosive to glass and plastic. It is also a severe irritant and can vaporize in air to form irritating chloroform. Its vapors are carcinogenic to humans and are a suspected respiratory tract mutagen. Sodium hypochlorite is extremely dangerous when mixed with cyanide. It reacts with cyanide to form highly toxic dichlorocyanide, and it can be absorbed through the skin to cause poisoning.

Sodium hypochlorite solution is stable when stored at 4 degC in purpose made containers. It has been found to be less stable at 24 degC, and after 2 yrs @ 24 degC two 2.5 l bottles of a high strength sodium hypochlorite soln (10-14% available chlorine) burst due to failure of the cap designed to vent oxygen slowly evolved during storage.