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Toxic Gas Exposure from Mixing Bleach and Ammonia (or Other Chemicals)

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Updated September 25, 2011

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

In case your mom didn't tell you, mixing bleach and ammonia can kill you. The nitty-gritty details of the chemical reaction aren't important, but the end result is a release of toxic fumes capable of anything from a sore throat to unconsciousness and death.
Time Required: Until the ambulance arrives.

Here's How:

  1. STAY SAFE! Regardless of anything else that happens, if you smell any strong odors then you need to move out of the area to fresh air. It only takes a few moments for many toxic fumes to overwhelm you. Obviously, if you become unconscious, you will not be able to summon help for yourself or anyone else.

  2. Call 911. Get help on the way. The faster an ambulance arrives the less damage will be done to the patient. During any call to 911, do not hang up until instructed to do so.

  3. If the 911 call center doesn't patch you through to poison control, call 1-800-222-1222 after you are finished with 911.

  4. Most likely, the person you find will be unconscious. If you are able, move the victim to a well-ventilated area away from the fumes. The best bet is to move outside.

  5. If you are unable to move the victim or the smell is too strong, ventilate the room as much as possible.

  6. Monitor the victim and follow the basic steps for first aid. Follow universal precautions and wear personal protective equipment if you have it. Most importantly, make sure you're in a well ventilated area. The victim can be covered in chemicals giving off the toxic fumes.

  7. When help arrives, tell them what happened and step back. Staying out of the way of rescuers is as much help to the victim as everything you do before the ambulance arrives.

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