Halogenated volatile organic compounds from the use of chlorine-bleach-containing household products

Environ Sci Technol. 2008 Mar 1;42(5):1445-51. doi: 10.1021/es702355u.


Sodium hypochlorite (NaOCl) and many organic chemicals contained in household cleaning products may react to generate halogenated volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Halogenated VOC emissions from eight different chlorine bleach containing household products (pure and diluted) were investigated by headspace experiments. Chloroform and carbon tetrachloride were the leading compounds along with several halogenated compounds in the headspace of chlorine bleach products. One of the most surprising results was the presence of carbon tetrachloride (a probable human carcinogen and a powerful greenhouse gas that was banned for household use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration) in very high concentrations (up to 101 mg m(-3)). By mixing surfactants or soap with NaOCl, it was shown that the formation of carbon tetrachloride and several other halogenated VOCs is possible. In addition to quantitatively determined halogenated VOCs (n = 15), several nitrogen-containing (n = 4), chlorinated (n = 10), oxygenated compounds (n = 22), and hydrocarbons (n = 14) were identified in the headspace of bleach products. Among these, 1,1-dichlorobutane and 2-chloro-2-nitropropane were the most abundant chlorinated VOCs, whereas trichloronitromethane and hexachloroethane were the most frequently detected ones. Indoor air halogenated VOC concentrations resulting from the use of four selected household products were also measured before, during, and 30 min after bathroom, kitchen, and floor cleaning applications. Chloroform (2.9-24.6 microg m(-3)) and carbon tetrachloride (0.25-459 microg m(-3)) concentrations significantly increased during the use of bleach containing products. During/ before concentration ratios ranged between 8 and 52 (25 +/- 14, average +/- SD) for chloroform and 1-1170 (146 +/- 367, average +/- SD) for carbon tetrachloride, respectively. These results indicated that the bleach use can be important in terms of inhalation exposure to carbon tetrachloride, chloroform and several other halogenated VOCs.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor
  • Halogens / analysis*
  • Household Products*
  • Organic Chemicals / analysis*
  • Quality Control
  • Sodium Hypochlorite / analysis*
  • Volatilization


  • Halogens
  • Organic Chemicals
  • Sodium Hypochlorite