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Old 02-16-2013, 05:51 PM
 
Location: Clayton, NC
237 posts, read 240,980 times
Reputation: 202
Default Toxic fumes elimination advice needed

Four weeks ago, I scrubbed a tub with CLR, rinsed it, then scrubbed with a Clorox/bleach foamer and rinsed it. Still failed to completely remove the stains, but that's not important. The shower diverter in the tub is broken, so I wasn't using it. But there was a mild smell in that bathroom (connected to my bedroom) from then until a few days ago. I thought it was odd at the time, but figured it would go away soon, and couldn't smell it in my bedroom. A few days later, I got a cough and sore throat which has been with me since. I didn't make the connection, because I had just gotten over a throat infection the week before, and figured this was some viral follow-up which would pass in time. Last weekend, it got worse into what I think is bronchitis. Got some expectorant medicine which helped some.

A few days ago, trying to get rid of the smell, I put a decent amount of vinegar in the tub, and quickly realized my mistake. While I have attempted to air the house out (the bathroom is not connected to the outside unfortunately), there is still an odor in the bed/bathroom (especially the tub), my eyes stopped feeling irritated in other rooms yesterday, and the bronchitis has gotten a little worse. While I'm staying with family near the coast at the moment, I can't stay for long since my work is in Raleigh.

I need advice ASAP on how to quickly and permanently rid my house of whatever is making me sick, since I'm pretty sure a viral infection would at least be improving by now. Is there anything besides more airing out I can do? And what professionals should I ask for help? I'm seeing an ENT next week to see if there's anything else to do for my symptoms and get further evaluated.
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Old 02-16-2013, 06:26 PM
 
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Maybe your drain is clogged. Vinegar + bleach releases chlorine gas, which is a respiratory irritant, but if you rinsed well you shouldn't have had any significant amount of bleach in there. Have you tried running the water for a while?
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Old 02-16-2013, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Clayton, NC
237 posts, read 240,980 times
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Well, I dumped a few buckets of water in to rinse the tub, both in the initial cleaning a month ago and shortly after dumping the vinegar. It seemed to drain at a normal rate. Would you consider that sufficient? I'm reluctant to run water from the tub, because I don't know if the shower diverted is leaking water inside the wall. I currently have the drain closed. I could try some septic-safe version of a drain unclogger, if it won't react poorly.
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Old 02-16-2013, 07:15 PM
 
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I wouldn't throw any more chemicals down there.

My best guess would be there's somewhere the cleaning chemicals have pooled, and that's causing the odor. If it's coming from the drain probably the best person to call would be a plumber.
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Old 02-16-2013, 07:39 PM
 
Location: Clayton, NC
237 posts, read 240,980 times
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Thanks for the advice, I'll give one a call.
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:33 PM
 
Location: the AZ desert
5,011 posts, read 3,192,570 times
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In the meanwhile, I suggest continuing to air out the house.

Close your bedroom door and put towels at the bottom, to seal it better. Turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom. Put a box fan on the floor near your bathroom door, to blow the air from the bathroom out into your bedroom. Open a bedroom window and put another box fan near it, blowing out (to exhaust the fumes).

Open windows in the rest of the house to air it out. With your bedroom door closed and towels at the bottom, that should keep most of the toxic fumes away and allow the other rooms to ventilate quicker.

If there is anyone you can borrow an appropriate mask from, you may wish to consider doing so. Just make sure to use the right cartridge for chlorine gas.

If you would like to read a bit about what happens when you mix ammonia and bleach, there is some good information here.
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Old 02-16-2013, 08:39 PM
 
20,741 posts, read 32,507,164 times
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Default Check your chemistry! You are confused...

Quote:
Originally Posted by nybbler View Post
Maybe your drain is clogged. Vinegar + bleach releases chlorine gas, which is a respiratory irritant, but if you rinsed well you shouldn't have had any significant amount of bleach in there. Have you tried running the water for a while?

Vinegar is acetic acid, a weak organic acid. The active ingredient in Clorox is sodium hypospchlorite -- a moderatelyn stirring inorganic acid. Acids do not react acids. A mixture of acids out not cause any reaction.

Now if one were to combine a strong base (like ammonia) with a moderately strong acid(like bleach) or a really strong acid (like muriatic acid / hydrochloric acid...) then you would release a potentially deadly level of chlorine gas...



Water will only dilute whatever the OP has brewed up but is probably safest. If the water in the bath won't work try running a hose from the laundry sink. Lots and lots and lots water is better than a few buckets.
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:06 PM
 
Location: the AZ desert
5,011 posts, read 3,192,570 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
Vinegar is acetic acid, a weak organic acid. The active ingredient in Clorox is sodium hypospchlorite -- a moderatelyn stirring inorganic acid. Acids do not react acids. A mixture of acids out not cause any reaction.

Now if one were to combine a strong base (like ammonia) with a moderately strong acid(like bleach) or a really strong acid (like muriatic acid / hydrochloric acid...) then you would release a potentially deadly level of chlorine gas...



Water will only dilute whatever the OP has brewed up but is probably safest. If the water in the bath won't work try running a hose from the laundry sink. Lots and lots and lots water is better than a few buckets.
According to this site, mixing vinegar and bleach results in chlorine gas.
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:21 PM
 
5,946 posts, read 4,124,751 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
Vinegar is acetic acid, a weak organic acid. The active ingredient in Clorox is sodium hypospchlorite -- a moderatelyn stirring inorganic acid. Acids do not react acids. A mixture of acids out not cause any reaction.
Sodium hypochlorite is an alkaline salt, not an acid.
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:01 PM
 
Location: Clayton, NC
237 posts, read 240,980 times
Reputation: 202
Quote:
Originally Posted by CheyDee View Post
In the meanwhile, I suggest continuing to air out the house.

Close your bedroom door and put towels at the bottom, to seal it better. Turn on the exhaust fan in the bathroom. Put a box fan on the floor near your bathroom door, to blow the air from the bathroom out into your bedroom. Open a bedroom window and put another box fan near it, blowing out (to exhaust the fumes).

Open windows in the rest of the house to air it out. With your bedroom door closed and towels at the bottom, that should keep most of the toxic fumes away and allow the other rooms to ventilate quicker.

If there is anyone you can borrow an appropriate mask from, you may wish to consider doing so. Just make sure to use the right cartridge for chlorine gas.

If you would like to read a bit about what happens when you mix ammonia and bleach, there is some good information here.
Thanks, I have already done what you have suggested regarding box fans and sealing the bedroom, and keeping other windows open. After a day of that there was still some odor remaining, strongest in the tub. I mostly closed the windows before leaving because there was a snow/rain storm starting, but will fully re-open them as soon as I get back. Do you know a way for me to measure when the air is safe to breathe again? And I don't know anybody with a gas mask, where can I buy one with the appropriate cartridge?
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