Mom nearly kills herself after mixing mopping solutions in hot water

A British woman nearly died of chlorine gas poisoning when mixing household cleaning products with hot water while cleaning the kitchen floor.

After a busy day, Charley Howson, 36, returned to her small home in Owlthorpe, North of England, and decided to clean the floor.

Howson mixed bleach, Dettol and concentrated disinfectant, Zoflora into a hot water tank. The woman did not carefully calculate the amount of chemicals before pouring them into the bucket of water and began to clean the floor. Normally, Howson uses bleach only, but on that day, she tried a mixture to make the floor even tidier than usual.

Just a few minutes later, Charley Howson felt a chest pain and breathing difficulties. The housewife thought it was just because her old illness recurred, so she did not worried about that. She has a history of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a peripheral neuropathy that causes weakness or even loss of sensation in the legs, feet and hands.

However, “the pain got worse and worse. I thought I was having a heart attack. I've had a collapsed lung before, and it felt a bit like that.” Howson said. Her son Corey, 15, dialed 999 to call an ambulance. Fortunately, Howson was promptly given oxygen, and gradually got better.

Charley Howson gets poisoned by inhaling chlorine gas which was released when she mixed three mopping solutions into hot water. Photo:

The doctors concluded that Howson had been poisoned with chlorine gas when they discovered its smell on her body. The cause of the poisoning is when Howson combined the cleaning solutions in hot water, the mixture produced a mass of chlorine gas. Chlorine is a chemical disinfectant that destroys microorganisms in water, industrial waste, and it is a common component in household cleaning products. Poisoning occurs when chlorine is ingested or inhaled, then it reacts with water in the body and produces hydrochloric acid (HCl) and hypochlorous acid (HClO). These are strong compounds which are extremely toxic and destructive to living cells.

Chlorine poisoning can cause certain symptoms such as breathing difficulty, fluid in the lungs, sore and swollen throat, vomiting, hypotension, severe eye injuries and burns, irritation, etc. The patient's recovery depends on the amount of chlorine gas swallowed or inhaled as well as the early or late treatments. If the patient is cured promptly, the possibility of complete recovery is much higher.

Corey, 15, saved his mother’s life. Photo:

"He's really mature for his age, and I'm so grateful he didn't listen to me when I said I was fine. He's made a joke out of it and calls me the 'chlorine gaffe girl' and says I should leave the cleaning to the professionals.” Howson proudly mentioned her son who saved her life.

Hoswon has been already left the hospital; however, she still has to encounter some sequelae of the poisoning like headache and sore throat. She warns people to read the instructions carefully before using any household cleaning products.

By: Chris Stewart

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