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Sodium bisulfite sources, health risks

Thursday, October 12, 2017 by

Sodium bisulfite is a highly toxic dry acid that is commonly found in many industrial products such as household cleaners, metal finishing, and swimming pool pH additives. The chemical is crystalline powder in appearance and has a slightly sulfurous odor, according to an entry published on the Pub Chem website. The entry also notes that the harmful chemical is a strong irritant to the skin and tissue.

The dry acid is known to trigger adverse medical conditions when inhaled, ingested, or exposed to the skin. A Med Line Plus article has stressed the importance of  seeking help from a local poison center or a local emergency number such as 911 following sodium bisulfite exposure. The article has also listed important tips on handling such an event. According to the article, individuals should:

  • Seek immediate medical help at the event of sodium bisulfite exposure.
  • Immediately give the victim a glass of milk or water if the dry acid is ingested. However, experts cautioned not to give water or milk if the victim shows symptoms –such as vomiting, convulsions or reduced awareness — that make swallowing difficult.
  • Victims who had eye or skin contact should readily flush the affected areas with water.
  • Move victims to an open area with fresh air if they inhaled the dry acid.
  • Take note of the victim’s age, weight, and condition before calling emergency for help.
  • Likewise, secure details about the product’s name, time that the chemical was swallowed, and the amount that was ingested.

Harmful effects that can be caused by sodium bisulfite

Sodium bisulfite is notoriously detrimental to the respiratory tract. Exposure to the dry acid may trigger respiratory tract irritation, coughing, and shortness of breath. Likewise, people who inhale sodium bisulfite may experience allergic reactions or asthma attacks. An article posted on the Live Strong website also cautions that inhaling large amounts of sodium bisulfite may cause severe lung damage. The entry highlights the importance of wearing protective masks to prevent exposure and inhalation.

The entry stressed that the dry acid may cause severe eye damage as well. According to the article, sodium bisulfite exposure may irritate the eyes and the mucous membrane. People exposed to the harmful substance may experience redness, swelling and stinging pain following exposure, experts note. Sodium bisulfite is also known to cause irreversible conditions such as corneal damage and blindness. Experts recommend washing the eyes for up to 15 minutes and moving the eyelids around from time to time to make sure that water completely covers the eyes.

Exposure to the toxic chemical may also result in severe skin irritation characterized by redness, itching and inflammation. Likewise, the victims may experience blisters and burns following skin exposure. According to experts, people exposed to the dry acid should immediately wipe off the chemical and wash the skin with water for up to 15 minutes. Contaminated items such as shoes and clothes should either be discarded or washed thoroughly, the experts say.

Furthermore, sodium bisulfite poisoning may induce a plethora of digestive woes. Victims may experience a burning pain in the mouth and the esophagus following ingestion. The dry acid is known to cause drooling, vomiting and diarrhea as well. Sodium bisulfite exposure may also lead to severe low blood pressure and weakness.

Body systems harmed by sodium bisulfite

Sodium bisulfite is particularly harmful to the respiratory tract. Likewise, the toxic substance is detrimental to both eye and skin health. The dry acid may also negatively affect the digestive tract and the body’s cardiovascular profile.

Where to learn more


Sodium bilsulfite causes severe allergic reaction, asthma, and lung damage.

Sodium bilsulfite also triggers eye irritation, corneal damage, and blindness.

Sodium bilsulfite exposure results in various skin and digestives conditions.

Sodium bilsulfite is harmful to both the respiratory and digestive tracts.

Sodium bilsulfite is detrimental to the skin, eyes and overall blood circulation.

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