Is hydrogen peroxide harmful to the environment?

Green earth

To fully understand whether or not hydrogen peroxide is harmful to the environment, we should start by answering a few basic questions:

  • What is hydrogen peroxide?
  • What does hydrogen peroxide do?
  • Does hydrogen peroxide have beneficial and/or harmful effects?

After we’ve answered these questions, we’ll understand how hydrogen peroxide is used and what risks it poses (if any) to the environment.

What is hydrogen peroxide?

We’ve already answered this question briefly in our hydrogen peroxide vs. enzyme cleaners blog, but we’ll go more in-depth here.

At its core, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is very similar to water (H20). The only difference is an extra oxygen molecule in the hydrogen peroxide.

What does hydrogen peroxide do?

Hydrogen peroxide is considered unstable. It will readily break down into a water molecule and an oxygen molecule under the right conditions. This breakdown can be caused by exposing hydrogen peroxide to a catalyst, such as bacterial cells.

Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent. That means it takes electrons from the materials it comes into contact with. In the case of bacterial cells, those cells are damaged or destroyed in the process.

Essentially, hydrogen peroxide is very good at breaking organic substances apart, and it turns itself into oxygen and water in the process.

What effects does hydrogen peroxide have?

Hydrogen peroxide is used in many different applications to drive a variety of desirable results. Its concentration and form vary depending on where it’s being used and by whom. In households, it’s most common form is a colorless liquid.

The top effects of hydrogen peroxide include:

  • Wound and instrument sterilization: Its capacity to kill micro-organisms makes it a popular choice as an antiseptic (3% concentration) and a sterilizing agent (6-25% concentration). However, doctors do not advise using hydrogen peroxide for wound care at home, as it can slow healing.
  • Hair bleaching: Concentrations between 3% and 9% can be bought at many drugstores, and it is often incorporated into blonde hair dye formulas.
  • Organic stain removal: Hydrogen peroxide interacts with a variety of enzymes and other organic components to break down many different types of difficult organic stains. It’s a particularly popular choice to clean up blood and urine stains. Typical concentrations are between 2% and 4%, such as in UrineTrouble.
  • Organic odor removal: Hydrogen peroxide has a similar effect on organic odors as it does on organic stains. It breaks odor-causing substances apart quickly and effectively.
  • Treating fish: Low concentrations are approved by the U.S. FDA to treat various bacterial and parasitic infections in fishery populations.

So, is hydrogen peroxide environmentally friendly?

With so many uses across so many industries, there’s a lot of hydrogen peroxide at work these days. Fortunately, it has a rather green reputation!

Many people consider hydrogen peroxide ‘green’ because it’s found in nature. It forms naturally when sunlight hits water, as well as within plant and animal cells. But substances like methane are also found in nature, but are still responsible for some serious environmental harm. To really clear hydrogen peroxide as eco-friendly, let’s look at how it its’ specific impacts.

Does household hydrogen peroxide create air pollution?

No. The gas released by a liquid solution of hydrogen peroxide when it breaks down is simple oxygen.

Does household hydrogen peroxide harm aquatic life?

At certain concentrations, hydrogen peroxide can be used as a pesticide for certain aquatic organisms. That’s why it has been approved by the USFDA as a treatment for fishery populations.

However, the concentrations and applications of hydrogen peroxide for home use do not pose a risk to aquatic life or ecosystems. You can even safely pour low-concentration hydrogen peroxide down the drain to clear clogs!

A greener cleaner that gets the job done

When you choose a product like UrineTrouble, you are choosing a powerful cleaner that’s safe for you and for the planet. When used properly it lifts stains, break apart odors, and leave spots looking clean and feeling fresh without any agony on your part. If you have any questions, you can always reach out to us at [email protected].