CDC Guidelines on Hypochlorous Acid HOCl

From the CDC

Chlorine and Chlorine Compounds

Hypochlorites, the most widely used of the chlorine disinfectants, are available as liquid (e.g., sodium hypochlorite) or solid (e.g., calcium hypochlorite). The most prevalent chlorine products in the United States are aqueous solutions of 5.25%–6.15% sodium hypochlorite (see glossary), usually called household bleach. They have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial activity, do not leave toxic residues, are unaffected by water hardness, are inexpensive and fast acting 328, remove dried or fixed organisms and biofilms from surfaces465, and have a low incidence of serious toxicity 515-517. Sodium hypochlorite at the concentration used in household bleach (5.25-6.15%) can produce ocular irritation or oropharyngeal, esophageal, and gastric burns 318, 518-522. Other disadvantages of hypochlorites include corrosiveness to metals in high concentrations (>500 ppm), inactivation by organic matter, discoloring or “bleaching” of fabrics, release of toxic chlorine gas when mixed with ammonia or acid (e.g., household cleaning agents) 523-525, and relative stability 327. The microbicidal activity of chlorine is attributed largely to undissociated hypochlorous acid (HOCl). The dissociation of HOCI to the less microbicidal form (hypochlorite ion OCl‑) depends on pH. The disinfecting efficacy of chlorine decreases with an increase in pH that parallels the conversion of undissociated HOCI to OCl‑ 329, 526. A potential hazard is production of the carcinogen bis(chloromethyl) ether when hypochlorite solutions contact formaldehyde 527 and the production of the animal carcinogen trihalomethane when hot water is hyperchlorinated 528. After reviewing environmental fate and ecologic data, EPA has determined the currently registered uses of hypochlorites will not result in unreasonable adverse effects to the environment 529.

Source: CDC