Bleach and the Environment

Bleach does not harm the environment
Bleach does not form dioxins
There is no free chlorine in household bleach
Is there mercury in bleach?
Laundering with bleach does not harm aquatic life
Clorox® bleach does not damage equipment and surfaces


Bleach does not harm the environment
Household bleach begins and ends as salt water in a fully sustainable cycle. There's a significant difference between "bleaching"-- the name often associated with the manufacturing of paper products -- and household bleach.

During consumer use and disposal, about 95 percent to 98 percent of household bleach quickly breaks down. The remaining two percent to five percent is effectively treated by sewer or septic systems.

Bleach does not contaminate ground water because it does not survive sewage treatment - either in municipal sewage treatment plants or in septic systems. Thus, there are no harmful effects of bleach in the environment.
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Bleach does not form dioxins
When used for cleaning and disinfecting, bleach cannot form dioxins. This is supported by several independent studies, including those by European environmental agencies. To form a dioxin, you need the type of organic building blocks that are typically found in the pulp bleaching process, which are not found in a household setting.
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There is no free chlorine in household bleach
It's wrong to call household bleach chlorine bleach because it has an entirely different chemistry. Household bleach is derived from sodium chloride - common table salt. Clorox purchases chlorine and makes household bleach by bubbling the chlorine into a solution of water and sodium hydroxide. During this process, all of the chlorine is converted to a sodium hypochlorite solution.
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Is there mercury in bleach?
According to Jim McCabe, who is responsible for the environmental safety and regulatory compliance of all Clorox products, in the most recent round of testing in 2001 that included all seven of its U.S. facilities, Clorox found that the amount of mercury in its final bleach product was less than 0.2 parts per billion.

McCabe: When we did our last major round of testing in 2001 that included all seven of our U.S. facilities, we found no detectable level of mercury in our final bleach product (the detection limit is less than 0.2 parts per billion). To put that into perspective, federal rules allow drinking water to contain 2 parts per billion of mercury, or at least ten times more than the detection limit. Moreover, federal rules consider mercury hazardous waste at 200 parts per billion. In other words, by not finding any mercury at its detection limit, our bleach is at least a thousand times under the level of being considered a hazardous waste due to mercury.)

Click here for more about mercury.
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Laundering with bleach does not harm aquatic life
Everyday consumer and commercial use of bleach as directed in laundering clothes or in disinfecting surfaces around the home or public places such as schools and hospitals does not produce harmful effects on the environment. Bleach degrades primarily into salt and water and the remaining 2 percent to 5 percent is effectively treated by municipal waste water treatment plants or septic systems. No bleach gets to the environment.
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Clorox® bleach does not damage equipment and surfaces
The majority of Clorox® bleach products contain anticorrosion agents and, when used as directed, are safe for use on a variety of hard, nonporous surfaces, including stainless steel, plastics, glazed ceramics, glass, porcelain and other materials. Use bleach with confidence to clean and disinfect countertops, floors, toilets, sinks, trash cans, keyboards, phones, light switches and desks.
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