What is Hydrogen Peroxide (H2O2)?

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

When Hydrogen Peroxide is used at high concentrations in the healthcare and food processing industry, it is not comparable to the brown bottle you buy at the drug store. It becomes a corrosive bleaching agent and sterilizer that kills highly resistant and infectious microscopic bacteria.

Chemical Properties

Hydrogen Peroxide or H2O2 breaks down rapidly into oxygen and water leaving no chemical residues.  It produces an odorless and colorless gas vapor that is environmentally friendly, yet highly reactive and hazardous to humans and animals. Hydrogen Peroxide detection and overexposure limits are impossible to manage without continuous monitoring.

Hydrogen Peroxide Dangers

Despite its usefulness in the workplace, Hydrogen Peroxide poses serious hazards and health risks. It’s important to proceed with caution, follow recommended exposure limits, and understand all Hydrogen Peroxide safety regulations.

Health Risks

Exposure to Hydrogen Peroxide can occur from inhalation or direct contact. Exceeding exposure limits causes:

  • Cancer in animals

  • Skin infection, redness, burns and irritation

  • Excessive fluid buildup in the lungs

  • Eye irritation and damage to the cornea

  • Nose and throat irritation

  • Headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting

  • Hair discoloration and bleaching

Burns occur from skin contact to Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen Peroxide vapor can cause eye irritation

Hydrogen Peroxide vapor can cause nose bleeds and other irritation

Over exposure to Hydrogen Peroxide can cause lung congestion

Highly Reactive

Hydrogen Peroxide is highly reactive and a dangerous explosion hazard. It is a strong oxidizer, which may enhance combustion of other substances.

Free Radicals

When trace levels of metal are present, Hydrogen Peroxide can form free radicals, including hydroxyl radical (OH). Hydroxyl radical is one of the most aggressive chemical species known to man. It attacks anything it contacts and causes cancer in animals.

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Common Applications of Hydrogen Peroxide in the Workplace

Odoo - Sample 1 for three columns

Aseptic Packaging for Food & Beverage

High concentrations of Hydrogen Peroxide at large quantities are used in aseptic packaging. While this is an essential part of delivering safe food and beverage products to the public, it creates a hazardous workplace environment. 

Odoo - Sample 1 for three columns

Sterile Processing at Hospitals

Sterile processing departments rely on high concentrations of Hydrogen Peroxide to ensure medical instruments and equipment are clean and safe for patients. Hydrogen Peroxide sterilization is dangerous and comes with an Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health (IDLH) level of 75 parts per million. 

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