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Child has exposure to bleach. Worried about adverse effects to brain and nervous system

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Dear doctor,
I am worrying about my son's exposure to some harsh chemicals. On Saturday, some cleaner come to do a deep cleaning of the house. When they were cleaning the bathroom, my 3-year-old son wanted to wee-wee. When we were in the bathroom, the cleaner has just poured bleach in the toilet, and was spraying the wall tiles. The smell is very strong. To make things worse, my son wee-weed in the toilet which still had the bleach. The smell is too strong, and I had to hold my breath. I later remembered the mix of bleach and ammonia would liberate toxic gas (chlorine/chloramine?), and urine contains ammonia! Although my son seemed fine after that, I cannot stop worrying about the adverse effect on him, especially on his nervous system and brain, as I have read inhalation of bleach and chlorine gas may have effects on nervous systems, and affect neurobehavior in long-term (Dr. Doris Rapp's handwriting experiment, K.H. Kilburn's paper 'Brain But Not Lung Functions Impaired after a Chlorine Incident' ).
I later asked the cleaners the products they used, they are Dettol mould and mildew remover (which contains Sodium Hypochlorite, Sodium Hydroxide), Harpic power plus (which contains surfactants, formic acid, and Sodium Hydroxide), and Mr. Muscle bathroom and toilet cleaner (which contains Alcohols, C9-11, ethoxylated, l-(+)-lactic acid). They all seem to be very strong cleaners with harsh chemicals, and the first two are obvious chlorite based bleach.
I am sorry I may sound too paranoid. But I just lost my judgement how serious this exposure is, and how bad are the adverse effects on my son, especially to his brain and nervous system? Need your advice. Thank you.
Posted Fri, 16 Aug 2013 in Child Health
 
 
Answered by Dr. Y V Siva Sankara Murty 37 minutes later
Hi,

Thanks for writing to health care magic.

I can understand your concern.
Do not worry.

There are two things here. One the duration of exposure is very short. Second the exposure is not direct like direct inhalation of a gas. The exposure was only to diluted material used for cleaning. (In the research article that you quoted there was a accidental direct exposure to the chemical)
Your child also never had any immediate effects that would occur if any toxic gas was inhaled. So do not worry about that.


Continue to ask further queries as required.
Hope this helps.
Take care.
Dr Y V Siva Sankara Murty
M.D.(Pediatrics)
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Child has exposure to bleach. Worried about adverse effects to brain and nervous system 8 minutes later
Dear doctor,

Thank you for your answer. I forgot to mention the bathroom is tiny with no window, so the ventilation is bad, which increased my concern. Do you think this would make the situation worse?
And, the cleaner was spraying the wash basin, when we were in there. I also worry my son may have inhaled some spray mist. Does it make the situation worse as well?

And, you mentioned 'the exposure was only to diluted material used for cleaning'. But my son peed into the bleach, wouldn't that create toxic gas, and result in direct contact with the gas?

I am sorry, but each of these details makes me worry more. Please give me some more advice. Thank you so much.
 
 
Answered by Dr. Y V Siva Sankara Murty 1 hour later
Hi,

I can understand your concern.

The lack of any immediate effects of toxicity itself indicates that there was no inhalation of toxic gases to the extent that it is harmful. So do not worry about that.
Even though the bathroom may not have widows or ventilator it is not a airtight compartment as there is a door.

Do not worry and avoid such a situation in future.
Take care.

Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Child has exposure to bleach. Worried about adverse effects to brain and nervous system 1 hour later
Dear doctor,

Thank you so much. One more maybe silly question, my son was having penicillin V for his ear infection. The last dose was 4 hours before this exposure. Would the medicine increase the ammonia level in his urine? and increase the toxic gas he inhaled?

And really really no harm has been done to him, right? especially not to his brain, right?

Thanks again.
 
 
Answered by Dr. Y V Siva Sankara Murty 18 minutes later
Hi,

Do not worry. That medication will is not going to increase the ammonia levels.

Enjoy with your kid and do not let these worries effect your valuable time with your kid.

Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Child has exposure to bleach. Worried about adverse effects to brain and nervous system 14 minutes later
Yes, I really don't want these worries destroy the time with my son. But, I just feel so bad that I did something wrong and may damaged him. I absolutely will be more cautious and don't let this happen again in the future. He seems fine, but I just cannot help worrying about lasting effects, especially to his brain. Dear doctor, can I ask again you really don't think any harm has been done to him, right? Thank you.
 
 
Answered by Dr. Y V Siva Sankara Murty 8 hours later
Hi,

Do not worry.

I do not think there was any significant exposure to harsh chemical. This is because there were no immediate manifestations of exposure.

Please do not worry and avoid such exposure in future.

Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Child has exposure to bleach. Worried about adverse effects to brain and nervous system 31 hours later
Dear doctor,

Thank you for your previous answers. Yesterday (three days after the exposure) I noticed his right eye is a bit red, but it seemed almost fine today morning. And I remembered, one or two days after his exposure, his nose has been a bit stuffed, and he has sneezed and coughed a bit. All these are not unusual for him, especially the weather is getting a bit cold these days. But because of that exposure, could all these be related to that, even if he didn't have any immediate initial symptoms? What's your opinion? Thank you.
 
 
Answered by Dr. Y V Siva Sankara Murty 17 minutes later
Hi,

Normally reactions if at all due to chemical exposure occur within hours after exposure at the maximum. Since you find these changes 3 days after the exposure I think it could be a viral infection. Normally with common cold in children it is common to find some eye discharge also. To confirm the same you may just get your kid examined by a pediatrician.

Hope this helps.
Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Child has exposure to bleach. Worried about adverse effects to brain and nervous system 4 minutes later
Thank you doctor. I actually find him sneezes and coughs a bit about one or two days after the exposure. But still should not be related to the exposure, right?
 
 
Answered by Dr. Y V Siva Sankara Murty 2 hours later
Hi,

Do not worry. It should be a respiratory infection or common cold as it did not happen shortly after or within hours after exposure.

Get him examined by your Pediatrician if he continues to have problems.

Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Child has exposure to bleach. Worried about adverse effects to brain and nervous system 7 minutes later
Dear doctor,

Thank you so much. Last question to make me more reassured (I am really sorry to be so paranoid), even his nose or eyes got a little bit irritation, that exposure should not have any effects on his brain, right?
 
 
Answered by Dr. Y V Siva Sankara Murty 4 minutes later
Hi,

The cold, sneezing and cough he is having could be because of a viral infection. If the symptoms persist then please get him examined by your doctor.

Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
Follow-up: Child has exposure to bleach. Worried about adverse effects to brain and nervous system 15 minutes later
Dear doctor,

Thanks again for your answer. I understand now that his sneezing, cough, eyes are not related to the exposure to chemicals.

I should tell you earlier, actually I have some lasting anxiety over his brain health (he has no problem, just my PND and OCD), so that's why I seem so silly kept asking the same question. I know I am very annoying, sorry. But I am now obsessed by the thought whether that exposure had some adverse effects on his brain and nervous system. I think it shouldn't be, since the exposure is not significant. But, I just need some professional confirmation for reassurance. Could you please kindly give me some confirmation on this matter? Thank you.
 
 
Answered by Dr. Y V Siva Sankara Murty 27 minutes later
Hi,

Day to day we are exposed to so many chemicals in today's world. It is not correct to think and worry about them continuously. It is good that we avoid all the harmful chemicals and be careful about them. But worrying that each and every exposure is going to end up in a disaster is wrong. Please be careful about your kid and you are absolutely correct in that. I can understand the love and affection you have for your kid. Be watchful of the harmful things around you. Take care about them. But retrospectively do not worry about them constantly. Any way what ever has happened in the past you cannot change them.

Just be watchful and take corrective steps if problems occur. Enjoy with your kid rather than worrying about him.

Take care.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
 
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