Health Stories

Woman poisoned by lethal floor cleaner combination

Do you mix cleaning products when you mop?

A simple household chore has almost turned deadly for a British woman who was taken to hospital after accidentally poisoning herself with a lethal combination of cleaning products.

Charley Howson, from Owlthorpe in Northern England, was taken to hospital last week with chlorine poisoning after mopping her kitchen floor with a combination of bleach, Dettol and concentrated disinfectant, Zoflora.

The English mother-of-three said she usually only uses one cleaning product, but decided to combine the three with hot water for a more thorough clean.

After only minutes, she began to feel excruciating pain in her chest.

“The pain got worse and worse, I thought I was having a heart attack,” Howson, who suffers from the muscle-wasting condition, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease said, reports Yahoo News.

“I’ve had a collapsed lung before, and it felt a bit like that.”

Howson’s 15-year-old son found her on the kitchen floor and quickly called for an ambulance.

Doctors at the Northern General Hospital say the combination created chlorine gas, which is can be deadly.

“The doctor asked if I had been cleaning, because the paramedics mentioned a strong smell of bleach,” Howson said.

“He said mixing those chemicals with the hot water had given me chlorine gas poisoning.

“I was stunned, I couldn’t believe it. He said that it happens far more than you’d think.”

Many cleaning products have clear instructions on the labels warning customers against combining with other cleaning agents.

Chlorine gas can be created by mixing chlorine bleach with acidic washing agents such as acetic, nitric and phosphoric acid.

Symptoms of chlorine gas poisoning usually include difficulty breathing, coughing, nose irritation, throat irritation and eventually vomiting or headache.

This article first published on Starts at 60.

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