Mildew remover poisoning

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Definition

Mildew removers are common household cleaners. Swallowing, breathing in the product, or spraying it in the eyes can be potentially dangerous.

This article is for information only. DO NOT use it to treat or manage an actual poison exposure. If you or someone you are with has an exposure, call your local emergency number (such as 911), or your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States.

Poisonous Ingredient

Poisonous ingredients include:

  • Detergents
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Sodium hypochlorite
  • Sodium perborate
  • Sodium percarbonate

Where Found

Mildew removers are sold under various brand names.

Symptoms

Mildew remover poisoning can cause symptoms in many parts of the body.

AIRWAYS AND LUNGS

  • Breathing difficulty (from inhalation)
  • Throat swelling (may also cause breathing difficulty)

EYES, EARS, NOSE, AND THROAT

  • Severe pain in the throat
  • Severe pain or burning in the nose, eyes, ears, lips, or tongue
  • Vision loss

STOMACH AND INTESTINES

  • Abdominal pain -- severe
  • Bloody stools
  • Burns of the esophagus (food pipe)
  • Vomiting, possibly with blood

HEART AND BLOOD

  • Collapse
  • Low blood pressure -- develops rapidly
  • Severe change in blood acid levels -- leads to organ damage

NERVOUS SYSTEM

  • Coma (decreased level of consciousness and lack of responsiveness)
  • Stupor

SKIN

  • Burns
  • Irritation
  • Necrosis (holes) in the skin or underlying tissues

Home Care

Get medical help right away. DO NOT make a person throw up unless told to do so by poison control or a health care provider.

If the chemical is on the skin or in the eyes, flush with lots of water for at least 15 minutes.

If the person breathed in the poison, immediately move him or her to fresh air.

Before Calling Emergency

Get the following information:

  • Person's age, weight, and condition
  • Name of the product (ingredients and strength, if known)
  • Time it was swallowed
  • Amount swallowed

Poison Control

Your local poison center can be reached directly by calling the national toll-free Poison Help hotline (1-800-222-1222) from anywhere in the United States. This hotline number will let you talk to experts in poisoning. They will give you further instructions.

This is a free and confidential service. All local poison control centers in the United States use this national number. You should call if you have any questions about poisoning or poison prevention. It does not need to be an emergency. You can call for any reason, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What to Expect at the Emergency Room

Take the container with you to the hospital, if possible.

The provider will measure and monitor the person's vital signs, including temperature, pulse, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Symptoms will be treated as appropriate. The person may receive:

  • Breathing support, including a tube through the mouth into the lungs, and a breathing machine (ventilator).
  • Bronchoscopy. Camera placed down the throat to see burns in the airways and lungs.
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (heart tracing)
  • Endoscopy. Camera placed down the throat to see burns in the esophagus and the stomach.
  • Fluids through a vein (IV)
  • Surgical removal of burned skin (skin debridement)
  • Washing of the skin (irrigation). Perhaps every few hours for several days.

Outlook (Prognosis)

How well a person does depends on the amount of poison swallowed and how quickly treatment was received. The faster a person gets medical help, the better the chance for recovery.

Swallowing such poisons can have severe effects on many parts of the body. The ultimate outcome depends on the extent of this damage. Damage continues to occur to the esophagus and stomach for several weeks after the poison was swallowed, and death may occur as long as a month later.

References

ATSDR. Medical Management Guidelines for Calcium Hypochlorite and Sodium Hypochlorite. Atlanta, GA. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, Division of Toxicology and Environmental Medicine, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; 2014. Available at: www.atsdr.cdc.gov/MMG/MMG.asp?id=927&tid=192. Accessed November 30, 2015.

Wax PM, Young A. Caustics. In: Marx JA, Hockberger RS, Walls RM, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2014:chap 153.

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 11/4/2015
  • Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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