The harmful effects of using bleach

Published: 15th October 2016 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th October 2016 05:38 AM   |  A+A-

Have you noticed the white bleach powder which is being added around all local garbage dumps lately? Every morning, a generous amount of white bleach powder is sprinkled by a corporation worker around the garbage bins in the city with the aim of sanitizing the area around it and keeping it germ and bacteria free. While keeping an area clean is a commendable task, we need to find the right way to achieve this without hurting or affecting the environment that surrounds these garbage bins. There is also a thought that this may deter animals from going through the garbage bins. But, with the large amounts of unsegregated garbage being dumped in these bins, it is going to continue attracting strays in spite of the bleach on the ground. This will further cause health issues and often death in these animals due to the levels of toxins that build up with them rummaging around for food in these bins.

The active ingredient in bleach is chlorine. Also found in other cleaning products like scrubbing powders, toilet cleaners and laundry whiteners, chlorine is almost always added to water supply and in swimming pools to keep it clean. Just a simple search on the web returns many links on the adverse effects of chlorine on humans and it is so just because there are so many avenues of exposure with this toxin.

You could be inhaling fumes and possibly through skin when you come in contact with it during cleaning. In our cities, it is injected in the form of gas into water before its supplied into the pipes in order to get rid of bacteria, thus keeping the water smell-free. Although these are checked by health officials and certified as “safe”, we are still getting exposed to the chemical when taking a shower. The health risks from chlorine can be acute and chronic; it’s a respiratory irritant at an acute level. But the chronic effects are what people don’t realize. It may result in a serious thyroid disruption and carcinogen.

There are several non-toxic alternatives to bleach that are easily available to us depending on the type of usage we are looking for in our homes and daily cleaning routines. Bleach in laundry can be easily replaced with vinegar by creating an overnight soak of clothes in vinegar solution and then running a regular wash on the clothes. Baking soda is another popular substitute to bleach for laundry. Baking soda also works well in the cleaning of dishware and baked-on stains. It is an effective deodorant for our homes as well. However, the real winning combination is that of both baking soda and vinegar. When combined, we have a cheap, simple and effective cleaner that can cut through even the dirtiest parts of a toilet. Baking soda is excellent to remove any stains and the vinegar has antiseptic and disinfectant properties. This combination also neutralizes odours and is safe for humans and the environment.

City-wise, there is enough research and development on disinfecting water through other processes such as UV radiation and membrane systems. Though there are challenges in making these available, it is time for us to switch to a non-chlorine option. As for the bleach around garbage bins — lets be smart and not have waste that turns to
maggots or attract hungry animals!

India Matters


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