There is news this past week about at least two different chemical spills causing personal injury and property damage in Iowa. The first is out of Ankeny, Iowa and sent six people to the hospital after they were exposed to chemicals leaked from a ruptured 250-gallon tote filled with sodium hydroxide at Dhorn Transfer, 2129 S.E. Hulsizer Road. The police said there was no threat to the public. If that's true why then did six people require medical treatment?
The next news story was of a chlorine gas sending six people to the hospital in Fort Dodge, Iowa. A clogged drain was being unclogged by the maintenance man at an apartment when he mixed the wrong chemicals. The two chemicals reacted, producing chlorine gas. Six people were treated. Mixing bleach and vinegar is a bad idea because a toxic chlorine gas is released. An article posed on About.com and written by Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D., explains it this way. If mixing bleach and vinegar releases toxic chlorine gas, then why do people do it? There are two answers to this question. The first answer is that vinegar lowers the pH of bleach, making it a better disinfectant. I'll explain how that works in a bit. The second answer to 'why people mix bleach and vinegar' is that people don't know any better or underestimate the risk. They hear mixing the chemicals makes them better cleaners and disinfectants, but don't realize it isn't going to make enough of a difference to justify the considerable health hazard. What is an alternative solution? Just buy fresh bleach. That is Ms. Helmenstine's advice. The crash reports from last week are at this link.