Q:

Is hydrogen peroxide dangerous?

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Quick Answer

Household-grade hydrogen peroxide can irritate the eyes and skin, but ingesting small amounts is typically not dangerous, according to the National Capitol Poison Control Center. Higher concentrations of the chemical compound, such as food-grade and industrial-grade hydrogen peroxide, can cause tissue burns and are potentially fatal when swallowed.

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Full Answer

Children who accidentally swallow small amounts of household hydrogen peroxide are likely to suffer only minor symptoms such as stomach upset, vomiting and mouth soreness, states the National Capitol Poison Control Center. Parents can treat these symptoms by giving the child a small glass of milk or water. Ingesting an entire bottle, however, can result in more severe stomach irritation or even burns that require emergency treatment.

Household, or 3 percent, hydrogen peroxide is usually sold in brown bottles at grocery stores and pharmacies, notes the National Capitol Poison Control Center. A food-grade hydrogen peroxide solution has a 35 percent strength, and higher concentrations used in industry contain up to 90 percent hydrogen peroxide.

Although high-strength, food-grade hydrogen peroxide has no FDA-approved medical uses, companies have illegally marketed them as treatments for illnesses such as AIDS and cancer, explains WebMD. The Food and Drug Administration discourages this practice and warns that such products can cause ulcers when taken orally. Intravenous use can result in gas embolisms and dangerous allergic reactions.

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