In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, various state governments are conducting sanitizing drives, disinfecting the streets with Sodium Hypochlorite (NaOCl)- a salt of hypochlorous acid.
Sodium Hypochlorite (NaOCl)
• It is a compound that can be effectively used for water purification. It is used on a large scale for surfacepurification, bleaching, odour removal and water disinfection.
• NaOCl is a clear, slightly yellowish solution with a characteristic odour. Sodium hypochlorite solution is a weak base that is inflammable.
• Sodium hypochlorite is unstable. Chlorine evaporates at a rate of 0.75-gram active chlorine per day from the solution.
• It is used on a large scale in agriculture, chemical, paint- and lime, food, glass, paper, pharmaceutical, synthetics and waste disposal industries.
• It is also used to detoxify cyanide baths in metal industries. Hypochlorite can be used to prevent algae and shellfish growth in cooling towers.
• In water treatment, hypochlorite is used to disinfect water. In households, hypochlorite is used frequently for the purification and disinfection of the house.
Impact on Health
There is no threshold value for to sodium hypochlorite exposure. Various health effects occur after exposure to sodium hypochlorite.
People are exposed to sodium hypochlorite by inhalation of aerosols. This causes coughing and a sore throat.
After swallowing sodium hypochlorite, the effects are stomach ache, a burning sensation, coughing, diarrhoea, a sore throat and vomiting.
Sodium hypochlorite on skin or eyes causes redness and pain. After prolonged exposure, the skin can become sensitive.
Sodium hypochlorite is poisonous for water organisms. It is mutagenic and very toxic when it comes in contact with ammonium salts.
Advantages as a disinfectant
It can easily be stored and transported when it is produced on-site. Transport and storage of sodium hypochlorite are safe.
Dosage is simple.
Sodium hypochlorite is as effective as chlorine gas for disinfection. Sodium hypochlorite produces residual disinfectant.
Sodium hypochlorite is a dangerous and corrosive substance.
While working with sodium hypochlorite, safety measures have to be taken to protect workers and the environment.
Sodium hypochlorite should not come in contact with air, because that will cause it to disintegrate.
§ The low cost greenish yellow solution is also called liquid bleach which acts as a germ-killing mechanism — effective against viruses and fungi.
§ Its duration of action may last for a few hours, not exceeding 24 hours. Thus, it can be used as a disinfectant, but not as a preventive dose.
§ The Mumbai fire brigade will spray 554,000 litre of diluted sodium hypochlorite across the city to contain the spread of corona virus.
There is a need to take caution while using the disinfectant as it may harm the people who directly came in to contact of this.