Identifying chlorhexidine and sodium hypochlorite reaction products and the environmental implications of its interaction with cotton fibers



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Chlorhexidine is heavily used in the medical and dental field and is prescribed for multiple uses related to healthcare. When in contact with sodium hypochlorite, chlorhexidine breaks down into several toxic compounds that are not fully understood, and these compounds have impacts on the environment and human health, due to its heavy use in the medical field. Chlorhexidine breaks down into compounds that permanently adhere to and damage the cellulose fibers found in cotton fabrics and alter the visible quality of fabric, which leads to re-washing of fabrics or outright disposal of fabric due to the staining and damage. Chlorhexidine is also used in conjunction with sodium hypochlorite in dental procedures, such as root canals, and the toxic nature of this interaction is not fully understood. Previous studies have identified several products of this reaction, one being para-chloroaniline, suggesting that chlorhexidine should not be used in conjunction with chemical oxidizers like bleach until the toxic products are further studied and identified. Understanding how chlorhexidine interacts with textile fibers like cellulose will save water and cotton fabric from being prematurely disposed of and negatively impacting the environment. This project will work to understand the reaction between chlorhexidine and sodium hypochlorite, the toxic products that result from this reaction, and its interactions with cotton fiber textiles to reduce its impact on health and the environment.



Chemistry, Analytical, Environmental Sciences