Bottles of Clorox bleach sit on a shelf at a grocery store.

Enlarge / Bottles of Clorox bleach sit on a shelf at a grocery store. (credit: Getty | Justin Sullivan)

The US Food and Drug Administration this week released an important health warning that everyone should heed: drinking bleach is dangerous—potentially life-threatening—and you should not do it.

The warning may seem unnecessary, but guzzling bleach is an unfortunately persistent problem. Unscrupulous sellers have sold “miracle” bleach elixirs for decades, claiming that they can cure everything from cancer to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, flu, hair loss, and more. Some have promoted it to parents as a way to cure autism in children—prompting many allegations of child abuse.

Of course, the health claims are false, not to mention abhorrent. When users prepare the solution as instructed, it turns into the potent bleaching agent chlorine dioxide, which is an industrial cleaner. It’s toxic to drink and can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, life-threatening low blood pressure, acute liver failure, and damage to the digestive tract and kidneys.

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