Q. I read somewhere recently that a woman almost died while cleaning with chlorine bleach and ammonia. I clean with these items every week. Could you tell me how this could possibly cause death?
A. Combining the common cleaning agents chlorine bleach and ammonia can liberate deadly chlorine gas. We trust you have not made this mistake.
This example points up the potential problem of mixing chemicals. Just as you were unaware of the danger of adding ammonia to chlorine bleach, some people do not realize that certain drugs are incompatible. For example, a person taking Coumadin might experience life-threatening bleeding if he started taking the antibiotic Bactrim (co-trimoxazole).
The antidepressant Nardil may be deadly when combined with another antidepressant such as Zoloft or even cheddar cheese. Methotrexate is a powerful drug used to treat psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis and cancer. If combined with co-trimoxazole it could trigger serious methotrexate toxicity such as blood disorders.
The bottom line is that mixing household cleaners can be very hazardous and so can mixing medicines.