MassCOSH, a workplace safety advocacy group, says these incidents are more common than you think and their group tries to educate employers about it.
"You might be using a bleach-based cleaning agent and unfortunately you use an ammonia-based or another acidic based cleaning agent and that reaction that creates the vapor," said Al Vega, MassCOSH.
Emergency room doctors say this mixing of cleaners can instantly create a toxic chlorine gas.
"When you breathe it in and it irritates your lungs. Just like a burn on your hand, you get burned on the inside of your lungs," said Dr. Matthew Mostofi, Associate Chief, Department of Emergency Medicine, Tufts Medical Center. "When you breathe in this caustic gas in your lungs, it causes the lung to become damaged and not be able to do its job and its job is to take oxygen and deliver it to your bloodstream and when it can't do that you die."
The deadly mixture of chemicals can happen right in your home. Doctors say one of the more common mistakes is cleaning products like bleach and Windex.
"You really gotta know what you are dealing with. Read the instructions," said Mostofi.
Emergency officials say the best rule of thumb is reading every label extra carefully and don't mix chemicals at all, and of course, always use any cleaning product in a well-ventilated area.
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