The chemical compound of hydrogen peroxide is H2O2, just one molecule more than H2O, which is pure water. That extra oxygen molecule is what causes the bubbles when we use hydrogen peroxide. Simply put, hydrogen peroxide is oxygen and water, a natural and harmless substance with a plethora of uses.
When most people think of hydrogen peroxide, they think of the brown bottle of antiseptic tucked away in our bathroom cabinets. However, hydrogen peroxide is also found in fruit and breast milk and is provided by the white blood cells in our bodies in order to fight off bacteria. Hydrogen peroxide is as also a safe way to clean up and dissolve ear wax and can be used to wash pesticides and other chemicals off of fruit
Hydrogen Peroxide – Uses
We’ve been taught by the chemical industry to expect instant results. The price of these instant results is often toxic chemicals such as corrosives, acids or worse. When using sodium percarbonate or liquid hydrogen peroxide solutions, it may be necessary to allow the solutions to “work” actively for a few minutes to a few hours.
When dealing with serious staining, whether of concrete, carpeting, surfaces or clothing, a pre-soaking period or activation time may be required. In some cases, adding a mild surfactant, such as a mild hand dishwashing liquid, is an excellent choice that will assist the hydrogen peroxide in removing the stain. Often, this is simply to help the hydrogen peroxide adhere to the stained surface and to create a slight viscosity or “slipperiness” to the cleaning solution, which aids in application.
The future of hydrogen peroxide lies in its ability to be applied under zero effluent conditions without including water as a by-product. Therefore, the use of hydrogen peroxide coupled with solid surfaces is crucial if the true potential of the reagent is to be realised. The use of zeolite-type materials has made an important contribution to industrial zero-effluent processing. However, further research is required, particularly in the area of supported metal catalysts on inorganic surfaces for the activation of hydrogen peroxide. It will also be important for researchers to seriously look at the suppression of metal catalysts leaching from the surface of the support.
Health Aspects of Hydrogen Peroxide
In humans, brief contact with hydrogen peroxide on the skin leads to irritation and whitening, the severity of which depends on the concentration of the hydrogen peroxide solution. Longer contact or higher concentration can lead to burns. Contact with the eyes can lead to serious injury. Hydrogen peroxide aerosol or vapour causes irritation and, in severe cases, damage to the upper respiratory tract and lungs.
Acute dermal toxicity depends on hydrogen peroxide concentration. Hydrogen peroxide has a mutagenic effect on fungi and bacteria but not on insects or mammalian cells in vitro. Oral administration of hydrogen peroxide produces tumours in the small intestine. The human reaction to the irritating effect of hydrogen peroxide on the mucous membrane and skin is far more sensitive. Hydrogen peroxide has not been found to produce teratogenic or carcinogenic effects in humans; mutagenic or chromosomal effects have not been observed.