From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Sodium hypochlorite, Bleaching Powder
Mains level : Coronovirus outbreak and its mitigation
In Uttar Pradesh, migrant workers travelling to their home states, or their belongings, were sprayed with a disinfectant, apparently to sanitise them. The chemical in the spray was a sodium hypochlorite solution.
- Sodium hypochlorite is commonly used as a bleaching agent, and also to sanitise swimming pools.
- As a common bleaching agent, sodium hypochlorite is used for a variety of cleaning and disinfecting purposes.
- It releases chlorine, which is a disinfectant. Large quantities of chlorine can be harmful.
- The concentration of the chemical in the solution varies according to the purpose it is meant for.
- A normal household bleach usually is a 2-10% sodium hypochlorite solution.
- At a much lower 0.25-0.5%, this chemical is used to treat skin wounds like cuts or scrapes. An even weaker solution (0.05%) is sometimes used as a handwash.
Note: The common bleaching powder is chemically referred to as Calcium hypochlorite and not Sodium hypochlorite.
Is the chemical safe?
- Sodium hypochlorite is corrosive and is meant largely to clean hard surfaces.
- It is not recommended to be used on human beings, certainly not as a spray or shower. Even a 0.05% solution could be very harmful for the eyes.
- A 1% solution can cause damage to the skin of anyone who comes in contact with it.
- If it gets inside the body, it can cause serious harm to lungs.
Does the chemical get rid of the novel coronavirus?
- The WHO recommends homemade bleach solutions of about 2-10% concentration to clean hard surfaces to clear them of any presence of the novel coronavirus.
- Cleaning hard surfaces with this solution can disinfect them not just from novel coronavirus but also help prevent flu, food born illnesses, and more.