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Homemade bleach-vinegar weedkiller: hospitalizations and resuscitation


Since 2019 in France, many herbicides have been banned for sale to individuals. Some therefore turn to alternatives offered on the internet.

ANSES and the Poison Control Centers warn against using a mixture of bleach, vinegar or another acid such as hydrochloric acid.

While only one poisoning had been recorded by the poison control centers from 2002 to 2013, this number has risen to 203 since the date of prohibition to individuals of certain herbicides in 2019.»

This combination producesa chemical reaction suddenly releasing chlorine gas» at the origin of poisoning with irritation of the respiratory tract and asthma attack, which may require hospitalization.

There is an additional risk of explosion if the mixture is carried out in a pressurized sprayer.

The most frequently observed symptom is cough, most often associated with difficulty in breathing or irritation of the ENT pathways.»

Nearly half of the exposed patients required medical care. Of the five hospitalized patients, three were placed in intensive care.»

Major airway irritation canprogress to acute respiratory distress syndrome, a very serious form of life-threatening respiratory failure. Respiratory sequelae such as asthma may persist“.

Among the 95 patients examined by a doctor, almost a third (27) showed signs of bronchospasm, ie constriction of the bronchi as in an asthma attack. Hypoxia (decreased concentration of oxygen in the blood) was observed in 29% (22) of the 76 patients treated in hospital, and respiratory distress in 5% (4).

The evolution of the state of health of the patients, known for three quarters of them, shows that a total of four patients have retained sequelae following this poisoning, with difficulty in breathing, shortness of breath or a reduction in capacity. respiratory symptoms persisting for one to six months after exposure. Three of them were followed by a pulmonologist.»

To limit the risk of poisoning, ANSES and the poison control centers recommend using only products bearing the statement “Use authorized in the garden”. They correspond to so-called “biocontrol” products, to products qualified as low risk such as iron phosphate to fight against slugs, and to those that can be used in organic farming.»

For more information, see the links below.

Psychomedia with sources: Anses, Vigil’Anses.
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