Bleach is used as a cleaner and disinfectant throughout the world. It’s used to bleach white clothes and disinfect different materials and even keep plants fresh.
However, it generally has bad effects on the environment if it’s disposed of incorrectly.
Generally, pouring it down the drain or throwing it out with the garbage is harmful to the environment. Hence, disposing of it correctly is extremely important.
Here are just a few of the effects of disposing of Bleach incorrectly.
Disposing of Bleach
Disposing of bleach can be done very easily through a few simple steps.
Let’s go through them.
Pouring Out the Bleach
This is considered to be the easiest way. The key to pouring the bleach down the drain is to dilute it.
It saves the environment a lot of reclamation and decontamination If the bleach is diluted while it’s being dumped.
You can choose to pour the bleach down the kitchen drain, but it’s not ideal. The first thing you need to do is turn on the faucet.
When the water assumes a steady flow you should slowly pour the bleach down the drain. Make sure the flow of both the water and the bleach is steady. Any difference in flow rate can result in damage to the environment.
By ensuring that a steady dilute solution of bleach is flowing down the drain, you limit the damage to the environment.
If you pour the bleach down the drain by itself, the concentrated dose will harm vegetation or pollute the water.
Pouring the bleach down the toilet is the next most obvious option. It’s the first option that many will consider.
This is much simpler than the previous technique. You can pour the bleach down the toilet in separate stages and then flush the toilet.
For instance, if you have more than a quarter of a gallon to pour down, do it in more than one stage and use this measurement as a rule of thumb.
Second, if your toilet bowl doesn’t have a significant amount of water, then you should add some. Fill a cup with water and pour it into the toilet bowl. This way you can dilute it.
The final drain is the bathtub drain. You can follow the same method as in the kitchen drain. Also make sure that the bathtub doesn’t have any other chemicals lying in it like soap or body wash, etc.
That way, you can prevent the bleach from combining with these other chemicals and making a more potent pollutant.
Disposing of the Container
First, look for labels that indicate if the container is recyclable. Some contain labels that inform the customer that there are special protocols to follow.
Some companies have mail-back programs to dispose of the bleach containers. However, in case that doesn’t happen, there are other symbols that you can look for that will clue you in.
For example, if you see the lettering “PET” and “HDPE” then the container is most likely recyclable. For more information on how to recycle it, you can ask your local recycling facility.
You can even call the government facility in charge of recycling in your area. Your best bet is to look up the EPA guidelines on how to recycle plastic.
Whichever option you choose, make sure that the container is empty. There shouldn’t be any bleach left in the bottle when you choose to recycle or throw it out.
It’s a good idea to pour some water into the container and rinse it out before completely disposing of it. Make sure to do this at least twice for good measure. This will remove any leftover bleach in the bottle.
Finally, if you can’t recycle the bleach bottle, then you should simply dispose of it in the trash.
Using the Bleach
Using up the bleach or making it last is probably the best thing you can do for the environment. You’ll inadvertently be saving the environment by using less bleach.
You can even pass the bleach around the neighborhood or to your bachelor friends if they need it.
Ask around if a local organization or a shelter could use the bleach. This could include food kitchens and homeless shelters or orphanages, etc.
If you have a local nonprofit then you could ask if they could use your extra bleach too. There is no shortage of people out there that need help or some extra assistance. Turns out by helping them you can help the environment too.
Finally, you can even place an ad for bleach for those that need it on the internet. This may seem like taking it a tad too far, but you’d be surprised how much people need house supplies.
You can try selling it for very little. You can even check out websites like Freecycle.org that recycle unused items.
You could even use social media to find out how you can better dispose of or recycle or donate bleach. The options are endless.
These are just a few of the things you can do to dispose of bleach properly. You can get even more help from your government or local body representatives.
Remember, it’s about caring for the environment and your fellow man. More than the effort required, you need to be prepared in case disposal of this sort is needed. Be more informed and thus more environmentally sound.
Also read: Is OxiClean Toxic or Safe?
The Effects of Bleach on the Environment
Bleach is quite clearly a very powerful chemical. It’s used to whiten paper, clothes, and much more. It’s even used in wastewater treatment.
Hence, it’s not supposed to be mishandled. Unfortunately, Chlorine which is used in Bleach is a threat to the environment. It can even be poisonous in large enough concentrations. Here’s how.
Chlorine is used in small amounts in swimming pools to clean them up. However, this is done very carefully as to not affect the swimmers.
Even so, swimmers complain of eye irritation and becoming itchy due to the chlorine content at times. This is why it’s very dangerous to dump bleach into water bodies.
The reason for this is chlorine is inherently a poisonous gas. It reacts with other minerals in the water and can form a lot of dangerous toxins.
This can include dioxins and PCDDs. These can stay in the water for a long time and persist until the water body is decontaminated.
The presence of these compounds within water has led to testicular cancer, breast cancer, and a lower sperm count.
Factories that rely on bleach manufacture can also release toxins into the air. During ventilation and exhaust, this can be a regular process.
A little chlorine can remain in the air while most of it is recycled, however. Due to stricter restrictions by organizations like the EPA, bleach exhaust is not the problem it once was.
However, in places where pollution isn’t controlled, bleach exposure can cause problems in the immune system, heart, and blood.
Finally, air pollution through bleach can eventually cause something called free radical destruction of the ozone layer.
That’s why Chlorofluorocarbons were banned because they were destroying the ozone layer. It was one of the reasons that global warming became so rampant around the world.
Impact on Wildlife
Chlorine bleach by-products have been known to harm wildlife populations as well. For example, laboratory animals have exhibited cancerous symptoms due to exposure.
Dioxins have been singled out as the reason for the decimation of the bald eagle in the mid 20th century.
Dioxins have also been singled out at the reason that fish and bird species continue to decline in the great lakes. The WWF has also warned that chlorine bleach can cause mutations, sterility, and the extinction of wildlife.
The reason for such potentially harmful effects is the accumulation of chlorine over time. Due to the persistence of chlorine and its by-products, they tend to aggregate and become more dangerous with time.
Organisms lower on the food chain can consume these by-products and then accumulate within bodies of organisms up the chain. This accumulation can ultimately lead back to human beings.
Dangers of Sodium Hypochlorite Bleach
Sodium Hypochlorite is one of the biggest components of bleach. Its effects include coughing from fumes, irritation and blistering, and stomach and abdominal pain.
It can even cause delirium if the exposure is high enough.
Things you can do to offset the effects of sodium hypochlorite include bleach exposure are:
- Call Poison Control
- Avoid ingesting liquids like water or milk if bleach has been ingested. Don’t make yourself throw up either since the liquid will burn the internal lining when it comes back up.
- Flush with water if the bleach has been in contact with exposed skin or eyes.
- Move to fresh air if you’ve been exposed to hypochlorite fumes.
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