1. #1
    Robert Burke
    Firehouse.com Guest

    Exclamation Is Chlorine Bleach The Right Decon Agent?

    An article in the January 12, 2000 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), suggests that emerging research and a lack of clear safety and efficacy data for bleach decontamination suggests that bleach should be avoided, especially if soap and water are immediately available. This article, written by Dr. Anthony G. Macintyre and others, assesses Health Care Facilities handling of contaminated casualties. The author suggests that adopting a universal decontamination process for all incidents might simplify this complex task and still be effective in decontamination of individuals.

  2. #2
    Firehouse.com Guest


    Could you post or email more specifics on this? The hospital environment may not be the best setting for the bleach solution. However, the field use constitutes diferent approaches. Hypochlorites in general are good decon agents for chemicals/ compounds from the WMD arena, cyanides, and pesticide families. If they can come up with something more practical, and economical for use in the field, great! Until some concrete, field proven, methods/ solutions are tested and published, I'll stick to bleach/hypochlorite. Just some thoughts.

  3. #3
    Firehouse.com Guest


    I recently asked this question of ED Physcian who Teaches Hazmat for FEMA. We were doing patient Decon during a drill. Research had suggested that we use 10% Bleach solution, since that would break down the Mustard on the contaminated patients.

    The problem, according to this physcian was that a 10% bleach solution is a strong skin irritant. Would cause dilation of the cappillaries of the skin, thus actually increasing the absorbtion of toxins. He suggested we use a 0.1% Bleach Solution.

  4. #4
    Firehouse.com Guest


    The CDC may be a source of information you want to refer to. They issued a statement in March stating NOT to use bleach on skin. You are right when you say that bleach burns the skin and allows for increased absorption of the toxin.

    As for the WMD's, the use of bleach doesn't help at all to remove the organophosphates and the cyanides. Try soap, water and a dilute isopropol alcohol or tincture of green soap(an alcohol-based product) on your organophosphates, as they help break down the oily toxins.

    As for the cyanides, soap and water will do very well on the cyanide salts. If cyanides gas is involved, better to bag the decon and get the antidotes going. You'll still need your respiratory protection if there is a chance of any ingested cyanides, as they will mix with the stomach acids and the patient may off-gas cyanide gas.

    The only time where I see that Bleach will be benificial is on a confirmed Anthrax exposure, where the anthrax spores will be killed by the bleach. CDC is recommending a 0.2% sol'n in these cases. They are recommending against bleach in unconfirmed cases. MUMedic

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