10 Spies Who Aren’t Household Names

10 Spies Who Aren’t Household Names

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1. Nancy Wake: Flirted her way through checkpoints and karate-chopped a Nazi guard to death

In the mid-1930s, an Australian journalist visited Germany to report on the rise of fascism and interview Adolf Hitler. The atrocities she saw there, which included the public beating of Jews, forever changed the course of her young life. Nancy Wake would spend World War II fighting Nazism tooth and nail, saving thousands of Allied lives and winding up at the top of the Gestapo’s most-wanted list. When Germany invaded France, where she had settled, in May 1940, Wake threw herself into the resistance movement, helping thousands of Jewish refugees and Allied servicemen escape to Spain. Until she developed a reputation as the elusive “White Mouse,” as her enemies dubbed her, she brazenly flirted with German soldiers to waltz through checkpoints. In 1943, aware that her hunters were finally closing in, Wake fled to Spain and later to Britain, where she convinced special agents to train her as a spy and guerilla operative. In April 1944 she parachuted into France to coordinate attacks on German troops and installations prior to the D-Day invasion, leading a band of 7,000 resistance fighters. During the violent months preceding the liberation of Paris, Wake, who died in August 2011 at 98, killed a German guard with a single karate chop to the neck, executed a female German spy, shot her way out of roadblocks and biked 70 hours through perilous Nazi-controlled zones to deliver radio codes for the Allies.

2. Boris Yuzhin: Used a camera concealed in a cigarette lighter to leak KGB secrets to the FBI

In July 1975 the Soviet intelligence agency sent Boris Yuzhin to San Francisco, where he would pose first as a visiting scholar and later as a news reporter while covertly monitoring student activities. Indoctrinated to view America as an enemy, he nevertheless felt right at home, and in time came to question his own country’s policies. By 1978 he was volunteering information about his associates and KGB operations in California to the FBI. Yuzhin’s cover was almost blown several times, including when a Soviet Consulate employee tried to spark the camera-concealing cigarette lighter he used for snapping sensitive documents. His stint as a double agent ended in 1986 after Aldrich Ames, a CIA officer who was spying for the KGB, identified him, landing Yuzhin in a Siberian prison for six years—a miracle in an era when Soviet traitors nearly always faced execution. The former spy now lives in Santa Rosa, California.

3. Marthe Cnockaert: Healed Germans to help the British during World War I

After German troops razed her small Belgian village in 1914, 22-year-old Marthe Cnockaert remained sympathetic to the Allies but desperate for work to support her family. She took a job at a makeshift hospital for wounded German soldiers, earning the German Iron Cross for her medical service. When a neighbor approached her about spying for the British, Cnockaert initially hesitated but soon embraced her covert role. For two years she coaxed German officers into casually spilling military secrets, which she promptly passed on to other undercover agents. But that wasn’t all: The demure nurse also arranged the murder of a German who wanted her to inform on the British, blew up a German ammunitions depot, directed airplane strikes and helped POWs escape—all while struggling with the guilt of endangering the injured men she’d treated. Imprisoned for two years after the Germans caught wind of her extracurricular activities, Cnockaert was later honored by Winston Churchill and wrote a book about her wartime experiences.

4. Eugene Bullard: Spied on Nazi officers who visited his Paris nightclub

Born in Columbus, Georgia, in 1894, Eugene Jacques Bullard stowed away to Europe as a teenager, earning money as a prizefighter and interpreter. When World War I erupted he joined the French army and ultimately became the world’s first black fighter pilot. He later married the daughter of a French countess, opened a nightclub in Paris and hobnobbed with the likes of Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong and Ernest Hemingway. Bullard served France once again during World War II, joining the resistance movement and using his fluency in German to spy on Nazi troops who frequented his establishment. (His German clients apparently spoke freely in front of him, believing that nonwhites were incapable of understanding their language.) Bullard later helped defend the city of Orléans, sustained debilitating injuries and was medically evacuated along with his two daughters to the United States. A hero in his adoptive country, Bullard had to rebuild his life in his homeland, where he worked for many years as an elevator operator in New York City. He died at age 67 in 1961, two years after France named him a Knight of the Legion of Honor.

5. Anna Smith Strong: Used laundry to arrange clandestine meetings during the American Revolution

In 1778, at the height of the American Revolution, George Washington charged a young cavalry officer named Benjamin Tallmadge with establishing a permanent spy network that would operate behind enemy lines on New York’s Long Island. Tallmadge’s group, the Culper Spy Ring, would become the war’s most effective intelligence-gathering operation. One of its members, Anna Smith Strong, served as a vital link between fellow agents living next door and Washington’s headquarters in Connecticut. She reportedly hung a black petticoat on her clothesline to announce the arrival of Caleb Brewster, who ferried messages across the Long Island Sound in his whaleboat. Strong would then set up the times and locations of secret meetings by arranging other garments according to a coded system.

6. Juan Pujol Garcia: Helped ensure the Allies’ success on D-Day

During World War II, a Spanish businessman names Juan Pujol Garcia earned the trust of high-ranking Nazi officials, who knew him as Arabel. They paid him to run an elaborate spy network that supposedly included a Dutch airline steward, a British censor for the Ministry of Information and a U.S. soldier in England. All were engaged in gathering intelligence on the British-Allied war effort, which was then transmitted back to Berlin. But even though Garcia was in the pay of the Nazis, he was actually working as a British double agent under the codename Garbo. None of Garcia’s spies were real, and the only tips he gave Germany were planted “secrets” designed to distract them from genuine military preparations and plans. On June 9, 1944, Garcia sent his German contacts fictitious reports that the D-Day landings three days earlier had been merely diversionary, and that many more Allied troops were poised to storm Pas de Calais. As a result, Adolf Hitler decided to keep his best units stationed in the Calais area instead of sending them to Normandy, where the Allies were already busy turning the tide of the war.

7. Elizabeth Van Lew: Led a spy ring for the Union during the Civil War

Raised in a wealthy slave-holding family in Richmond, Virginia, Elizabeth Van Lew developed strong abolitionist sympathies as a young adult, particularly after attending a Quaker school in Philadelphia. When the Civil War broke out, Van Lew began visiting captured Union soldiers, helping men escape and gathering valuable information about Confederate strategy from both prisoners and guards. In late 1863, Union General Benjamin Butler recruited Van Lew as a spy; she soon became the head of an entire espionage network based in Richmond. With the help of her servants—including Mary Bowser, an important spy in her own right—Van Lew sent coded messages to Union officers, often using invisible ink and hiding the dispatches in hollowed-out eggs or vegetables. She convinced new members to join her covert ring, including a high-ranking official at Libby Prison. When Richmond fell to Union forces in April 1865, Van Lew brazenly flew the Stars and Stripes above her home.

8. John Scobell: Posed as a slave to gather information behind Confederate lines

A former slave from Mississippi, John Scobell worked as an undercover officer for Allan Pinkerton, the head of Union intelligence services during the Civil War. Scobell completed a number of top-secret missions, often playing the part of a cook, field hand or butler to eavesdrop on Confederate officials; he once even served as a deckhand on a rebel sympathizer’s steamboat to gather critical details about the enemy’s battle strategy and troop movements. Scobell also persuaded members of a clandestine slave organization to acts as couriers and report on local conditions. In one incident described in Pinkerton’s memoirs, Scobell was pretending to be the servant of a female Union operative, Carrie Lawton, when Confederate agents opened fire on the pair. In the ensuing gunfight, he single-handedly fought off the Confederates, killing several, and saved both Lawton’s life and his own.

9. Yehudit Nessyahu: Helped bring Holocaust mastermind Adolf Eichmann to justice

Born in Holland in 1925, Yehudit Nessyahu moved to Israel as a young girl and spent much of her life undercover. In the 1950s she participated in a covert operation to smuggle Jews out of Morocco, cultivating the persona of a wealthy and eccentric Dutch transplant while stashing falsified documents in her shopping bags. In 1960 she was the only woman on the legendary Mossad team that engineered the elaborate capture of Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann, who was living under a false name in Argentina, and brought him to stand trial in Jerusalem. Nessyahu later infiltrated an insular religious community in Antwerp to help locate a kidnapped Israeli boy. She died in 2003.

10. James Rivington: Printed a loyalist newspaper but secretly spied for George Washington

Staunch backer of the British crown or the American Revolution’s most unlikely champion? We may never know the truth about James Rivington, an English bookseller and publisher who relocated to New York’s Wall Street after his London business failed. As tensions escalated between the colonists and the British monarchy, Rivington fiercely denounced the rebels in his newspaper, Rivington’s Gazette, inciting a mob of revolutionaries to burn his house and demolish his press in 1775. Two years later, he returned from a stay in England and—according to recent scholarship, at least—switched sides to work as a spy for the revolting colonists. A coffeehouse adjacent to Rivington’s rebuilt shop doubled as a meeting place for high-ranking British officers, and primary documents from the period suggest that the newly pro-patriot printer shared their secrets with George Washington himself.

10 Unbelievable Stories Of Married People With Secret Families

Imagine the shock of finding out that your significant other is not only unfaithful but has been living a double life. To make matters worse, they have a different name, a second wife, kids, a house, and a pet dog that you never knew about. Unless you&rsquore in Vegas, most people walk to the altar thinking they know their true love well. But there have been countless stories of people finding out that their loved ones aren&rsquot who they thought they were.

How do these people pull it off? Why would someone do such a thing? What leads to the truth coming out? The following shows that not everyone takes their marriage vows to heart.

10 Companies That Failed To Innovate, Resulting In Business Failure

It’s crazy to think that 88% of the Fortune 500 firms that existed in 1955 are gone. These companies have either gone bankrupt, merged, or still exist but have fallen from the top Fortune 500 companies. Most of the companies on the list in 1955 are unrecognizable, forgotten companies today. As the life expectancies of companies continue to shrink, organisations must be more vigilant than ever in remaining innovative and future-proofing their businesses.

Here are 10 famous companies that failed to innovate, resulting in business failure.

1. Blockbuster (1985 – 2010)

Home movie and video game rental services giant, Blockbuster Video, was founded in 1985 and arguably one of the most iconic brands in the video rental space. At its peak in 2004, Blockbuster employed 84,300 people worldwide and had 9,094 stores. Unable to transition towards a digital model, Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

In 2000, Netflix approached Blockbuster with an offer to sell their company to Blockbuster for US$50 million. The Blockbuster CEO, was not interested in the offer because he thought it was a "very small niche business" and it was losing money at the time. As of July 2017, Netflix had 103.95 million subscribers worldwide and a revenue of US$8.8bn.

2. Polaroid (1937 – 2001)

Founded in 1937, Polaroid is best known for its Polaroid instant film and cameras. Despite its early success in capturing a market that had few competitors, Polaroid was unable to anticipate the impact that digital cameras would have on its film business. Falling into the ‘success trap’ by exploiting only their (historically successful) business activities, Polaroid neglected the need to explore new territory and enhance their long-term viability.

The original Polaroid Corporation was declared bankrupt in 2001 and its brand and assets were sold off. In May 2017, the brand and intellectual property of the Polaroid corporation was acquired by the largest shareholder of the Impossible Project, which had originally started out in 2008 by producing new instant films for Polaroid cameras Impossible Project was renamed Polaroid Originals in September 2017.

3.Toys R Us (1948 – 2017)

Toys “R” Us is a more recent story about the financial struggle one of the world’s largest toy store chains. With the benefit of hindsight, Toys "R" Us may have led to its own undoing when it signed a 10-year contract to be the exclusive vendor of toys on Amazon in 2000. Amazon began to allow other toy vendors to sell on its site in spite of the deal, and Toys "R" Us sued Amazon to end the agreement in 2004. As a result, Toys "R" Us missed the opportunity to develop its own e-commerce presence early on. Far too late, Toys “R” Us announced in May 2017 its plan to revamp its website as part of a $100 million, three-year investment to jump-start its e-commerce business.

While filing for bankruptcy in September 2017 under pressure from its debt of US$1bn and fierce online retail competition, it has continued to keep its physical stores open.

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4. Pan Am (1927 – 1991)

Pan American World Airways (aka Pan Am), founded in 1927, was the largest international air carrier in the United States. The company was known as an industry innovator and was the first airline to offer computerised reservation systems and jumbo jets.

The downfall of Pan Am is attributed to was a combination of corporate mismanagement, government indifference to protecting its prime international carrier, and flawed regulatory policy. By over-investing in its existing business model and not investing in future, horizon 3, innovations, Pan Am filed for bankruptcy in 1991. Pan Am is survived only in pop culture through its iconic blue logo, which continues to be printed on purses and T-shirts and as the subject of a TV show on ABC starring Christina Ricci.

5. Borders (1971 – 2011)

Borders was an international book and music retailer, founded by two entrepreneurial brothers while at university. With locations all around the world but mounting debt, Border was unable to transition to the new business environment of digital and online books. Its missteps included holding too much debt, opening too many stores as well as jumping into the e-reader business to late.

Sadly, Borders closed all of its retail locations and sold off its customer loyalty list, comprising millions of names, to competitor Barnes & Noble for US$13.9 million. Borders' locations have since been purchased and repurposed by other large retailers.

6. Pets[dot]com (1998 – 2000) was an online business that sold pet accessories and supplies direct to consumers over the World Wide Web. Although short-lived, managed to find some success during a time when there were no plug and play solutions for ecommerce/warehouse management and customer service that could scale. launched in August 1998 and went from an IPO on the Nasdaq stock exchange to liquidation in 268 days.

Its high public profile during its brief existence made it one of the more noteworthy failures of the dot-com bubble of the early 2000s. US$300 million of investment capital vanished with the company's failure. is a memorable cautionary tale of a high-profile marketing campaign coupled with weak fundamentals (and poor timing). Today, the URL redirects users to PetSmart's website.

7. Tower Records (1960 – 2004)

A pioneer in its time, Tower Records was the first to create the concept of the retail music mega-store. Founded by Russell Solomon in 1960, Tower Records sold CDs, cassette tapes, DVDs, electronic gadgets, video games, accessories and toys. Ahead of its time for a fleeting moment, launched in 1995, making it one of the first retailers to move online. It seems the company’s foresights stopped short there as it fell prey excessive debts and ultimately bankruptcy in 2004. Tower Records could not keep up with digital disruptions such as music piracy, iTunes and streaming businesses such as Spotify and Pandora. Its legacy is remembered in the form of the movie ɾmpire Records,' which was written by a former Tower Records employee.

8. Compaq (1982 – 2002)

Compaq was one of the largest sellers of PCs in the entire world in the 1980s and 1990s. The company produced some of the first IBM PC compatible computers, being the first company to legally reverse engineer the IBM Personal Computer. Compaq ultimately struggled to keep up in the price wars against Dell and was acquired for US$25 billion by HP in 2002. The Compaq brand remained in use by HP for lower-end systems until 2013 when it was discontinued.

9. General Motors (1908 – 2009)

After being one of the most important car manufacturers for more than 100 years, and one of the largest companies in the world, General Motors also resulted in one of history’s largest bankruptcies. Failure to innovate and blatantly ignoring competition were key to the company’s demise. As GM focused predominantly on profiting from finance, the business neglected to improve the quality of its product, failed to adapt GM to changes in customer needs and did not invest in new technologies. Through a major bailout from the US government, the current company, General Motors Company ("new GM"), was formed in 2009 and purchased the majority of the assets of the old GM, including the brand "General Motors".

10. Kodak (1889-2012)‘

At one time the world’s biggest film company, Kodak could not keep up with the digital revolution, for fear of cannibalizing its strongest product lines. The leader of design, production and marketing of photographic equipment had a number of opportunities to steer the company in the right direction but its hesitation to fully embrace the transition to digital led to its demise. For example, Kodak invested billions of dollars into developing technology for taking pictures using mobile phones and other digital devices. However, it held back from developing digital cameras for the mass market for fear of eradicating its all-important film business. Competitors, such as the Japanese firm Canon, grasped this opportunity and has consequently outlived the giant. Another example is Kodak’s acquisition of a photo sharing site called Ofoto in 2001. However, instead of pioneering what might have been a predecessor of Instagram, Kodak used Ofoto to try to get more people to print digital images. Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and after exiting most of its product streams, re-emerged in 2013 as a much smaller, consolidated company focused on serving commercial customers.

The CIA’s Most Highly-Trained Spies Weren’t Even Human

There would be a rustle of oily black feathers as a raven settled on the window ledge of a once-grand apartment building in some Eastern European capital. The bird would pace across the ledge a few times but quickly depart. In an apartment on the other side of the window, no one would shift his attention from the briefing papers or the chilled vodka set out on a table. Nor would anything seem amiss in the jagged piece of gray slate resting on the ledge, seemingly jetsam from the roof of an old and unloved building. Those in the apartment might be dismayed to learn, however, that the slate had come not from the roof but from a technical laboratory at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. In a small cavity at the slate’s center was an electronic transmitter powerful enough to pick up their conversation. The raven that transported it to the ledge was no random city bird, but a U.S.-trained intelligence asset.

From This Story

Video: How to Train a Cat to Star in a Television Commercial

One of the hidden tools of a spy's arsenal? Animals. (Dan Winters) The I.Q. Zoo’s chicken tick-tack-toe booth. (Dan Winters) A dolphin in training to carry Navy equipment. (Bob Bailey Collection) An “acoustic kitty” model. Trainer Bob Bailey says live felines were sent on eavesdropping missions. (Bob Bailey Collection) “‘This is the room we want to get to. Can you get your raven up there to deposit a device?’ yes, we can.” (Dan Winters) The Brelands founded Animal Behavior Enterprises as a commercial venture in 1947 and began training small animals, such as birds. (Animal Behavior Enterprises) In the 1940s and 󈧶s, the Mathematical Genius became a fixture at feed expositions and county fairs. (Animal Behavior Enterprise) Marian Breland (left) and her husband also trained a “muscular goat,” which could trip the sledgehammer to ring the bell. (Animal Behavior Enterprises) The Bunny Photographer, another I.Q. Zoo act, got children to sit still for a minute and provided them with a souvenir photo. (Animal Behavior Enterprises) Breland (with a trained otter) and his wife established their I.Q. Zoo to showcase their methods of operant conditioning. (Courtesy of Bob Bailey) "Larro Larry" was a bull the Brelands trained to snatch a tablecloth off a table, though not without spilage. (Animal Behavior Enterprise) One of Brelands' acts was the mathematical genius, a chicken trained to "answer" arithmetic questions by pecking a pointer. (Animal Behavior Enterprise) Keller Breland (training a dolphin for the Navy) and his wife, Marian, did graduate work with the psychologist B.F. Skinner. (Animal Behavior Enterprises)

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Half a world away from the murk of the cold war, it would be a typical day at the I.Q. Zoo, one of the touristic palaces that dotted the streets of Hot Springs, Arkansas, in the 1960s. With their vacationing parents inca tow, children would squeal as they watched chickens play baseball, macaws ride bicycles, ducks drumming and pigs pawing at pianos. You would find much the same in any number of mom-and-pop theme parks or on television variety shows of the era. But chances are that if an animal had been trained to do something whimsically human, the animal—or the technique—came from Hot Springs.

Two scenes, seemingly disjointed: the John le Carré shadows against the bright midway lights of county-fair Americana. But wars make strange bedfellows, and in one of the most curious, if little-known, stories of the cold war, the people involved in making poultry dance or getting cows to play bingo were also involved in training animals, under government contract, for defense and intelligence work. The same methods that lay behind Priscilla the Fastidious Pig or the Educated Hen informed projects such as training ravens to deposit and retrieve objects, pigeons to warn of enemy ambushes, or even cats to eavesdrop on human conversations. At the center of this Venn diagram were two acolytes of the psychologist B.F. Skinner, plus Bob Bailey, the first director of training for the Navy’s pioneering dolphin program. The use of animals in military intelligence dates back to ancient Greece, but the work that this trio undertook in the 1960s promised an entirely new level of sophistication, as if James Bond’s Q had met Marlin Perkins.

“We never found an animal we could not train,” says Bailey, 76, who in his career has done everything from teaching dolphins to detect submarines to inventing the Bird Brain, an apparatus that enabled a person to play tick-tack-toe against a chicken. (One is in the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.) “Never,” he repeats, as we sit in the book-cluttered living room of his modest lakefront house in Hot Springs. “Never.”

As I try to summon particularly challenging creatures—Alligators? Moles? Crustaceans?—he asks, “Do you know who Susan Garrett is?” I do not. Garrett, it turns out, is a world champion trainer in the sport of dog agility. A few years ago, Bailey was teaching a course on stimulus control for her students. His stimulus was a laser pointer. One day, he was in the bathroom and saw a spider. “I looked down at this spider and said, hmmm.” He took out his laser, turned it on, and gently blew on the spider. “Spiders don’t like wind—it blows their web down,” he says. “They pull themselves down into the smallest size they can get and hunker down.”

Turn on laser. Blow. Turn on laser. Blow. Bailey did this at several intervals during the day. “By the time I finished all I had to do is turn that light on,” he says, and the spider would go defensive. He returned to the classroom where Garrett was lecturing and announced: “You’ve got a trained spider in your bathroom.”

This is Psych 101: Pavlovian, or “classical,” conditioning. The laser is a conditioned stimulus, the breath an unconditioned stimulus. Over time, the spider so associates one with the other that the mere appearance of the former is enough to trigger a “conditioned response.”

While Pavlov plays a part in our story—“I have a saying in the training business,” Bailey says, “Pavlov is always on your shoulder”—the real inspiration is B.F. Skinner, the Harvard University psychologist who was, in the middle of the 20th century, the most cited scholar of the human mind after Freud. Skinner popularized “operant conditioning,” a practice based less on primal reflex responses and more on getting animals (including humans) to do things voluntarily, based on cues in the environment. When “behavior is followed by a consequence,” Skinner wrote, “the nature of the consequence modifies the organism’s tendency to repeat the behavior in the future.” In his famous operant-conditioning chamber, or “box,” an animal learns to associate an action with a reward. He favored pigeons, which received food for pecking at certain buttons.

During World War II, Skinner received defense funding to research a pigeon-based homing device for missiles. (The birds would be housed in the nose cone their pecking would activate steering engines.) It was never deployed, but the project captured the imagination of two of his graduate students, Keller Breland and his wife, Marian. They left Skinner’s lab in 1947 and went into business in Minnesota as Animal Behavior Enterprises, or ABE. Their main client was General Mills, for whom they trained chickens and other animals for shows advertising General Mills feed at county fairs.

Their business gradually expanded, to zoos and theme parks and appearances on “The Tonight Show” and “Wild Kingdom.” They trained a slew of animals for TV commercials, including Buck Bunny, the coin-depositing rabbit protagonist of a Coast Federal Savings Bank commercial that set a record for repeat airings over two decades. In 1955, in their new home of Hot Springs, Arkansas, the Brelands opened the I.Q. Zoo, where visitors would pay, in essence, to watch Skinnerian conditioning in action—even if in the form of basketball-playing raccoons.

The I.Q. Zoo was both a tourist attraction and a proving ground for systems of operant conditioning. The Brelands didn’t just become America’s pre-eminent commercial animal trainers, they also published their observations in scholarly journals like American Psychologist. Everyone from Walt Disney to Florida’s Marineland wanted their advice. It is thus little surprise that they were invited to the Naval Air Weapons Station at China Lake, California, to address a new Navy program on the training of marine mammals for defense work, headed by Bob Bailey. The fact that China Lake, on the western edge of the Mojave Desert, has neither water nor marine mammals is the sort of detail that does not seem out of place in a story like this.

Bailey’s tenure at China Lake was not his first stint in the desert. As an undergraduate at UCLA in the 1950s, he was hired by the School of Medicine to collect and photograph animals. In his long hours laying traps for kangaroo rats out near Palmdale, he noticed a patch of alfalfa.

“Alfalfa in the middle of nowhere attracts rabbits,” he says. “Any time you have rabbits out in the middle of the Mojave, you’re going to have coyotes.” He found a den nearby and began to notice that the coyotes, upon setting out, would head toward one of two fields. Curious to see if he could condition their behavior, he began placing dead rabbits along the paths he wanted the coyotes to choose. After some months he found that 85 percent of the time, he could get the coyotes to choose the path he designated. He then began tying white strips of cloth near the rabbits. Soon, those white strips alone were enough to direct the coyotes. “It was me,” Bailey says. “That was just me.”

As he earned his bachelor of science degree, he became a kind of part-time animal-behavior boffin. After a brief stint in the Army, with the 525 Military Intelligence Brigade, he found himself back at UCLA, employed as a researcher at the medical school. One day he noticed a flier advertising for a director of training of the Navy’s new dolphin program, which would develop methods of training marine mammals to perform tasks ranging from detecting and clearing mines to retrieving tools. He applied for the job and eventually got it. Any number of scholars were brought out to consult on the program—people like Gregory Bateson, the English anthropologist who was once married to Margaret Mead, and, of course, the Brelands. As Bailey conducted his research, including a quasi-covert training program involving search and detection tasks in the open ocean, he grew increasingly disenchanted with research directives coming from China Lake that focused more on psychology than on intelligence work. “I could see very quickly where these animals would be really useful,” he says, “and yet people who were involved, we would joke, wanted to ‘talk to the dolphins.’”

In 1965, Bailey agreed to join the Brelands and Animal Behavior Enterprises in Hot Springs. Suddenly he found himself in the entertainment business. “I was designing sets, building sets, had to learn how to write a show script,” he says. Training animals “was the easy part.” By now, ABE had more than 50 employees and a full-blown systematic approach to animal training. “We had file drawers full of training protocols,” Bailey says. “You want a macaw to ride a bicycle?” The trainer would go to the front office, ask a secretary for the bicycle-riding protocols. “They’d ask: Was it for cockatoos or macaws? It’s different.”

That June, Keller Breland died of a heart attack at the age of 50, and the day-to-day running of the business largely fell to Bailey. More than a decade later, he and Marian married. “Marian was a softhearted person,” he says. (She died in 2001.) “Business is pretty hard-nosed.”

While at ABE, Bailey designed the Bird Brain, which housed a chicken that would appear to engage the patron in a game of tick-tack-toe. (In reality, a circuit board chose the chicken’s squares when the chicken retired to its “thinkin’ booth” during play, it was pressing a button in response to a light triggered by the human’s moves.) The game was immensely popular (if not without criticism, Bailey says, by the fledgling People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), though it was rigged so the human—even B.F. Skinner himself—never won. “We built three pieces of equipment where the chicken could lose,” Bailey says. “It didn’t improve our income at all.”

But by then, ABE had a sideline: Not long after Bailey joined the firm, it had begun hearing from various government agencies: the CIA and the Army’s Aberdeen Proving Ground and Limited Warfare Laboratories. “They came to us to solve problems,” Bailey says. “It was the height of the cold war.”

A raven, in espionage parlance, is a male agent tasked with seducing intelligence targets. But avian ravens can be spies as well. When Bailey describes the Western raven, he sounds as if he’s talking about Jason Bourne. “It operates alone, and it does very well alone,” he says. Western ravens are adept at pattern recognition. “They could learn to respond to classes of objects,” he says. “If you’ve got a big desk and a little desk, you could train it to always go to the small one.” They can also carry quite a load. “These things could pick up weights, heavy packages, even file folders,” he says. “It was incredible to watch these ravens carry a load in their beaks that would have defeated an ordinary bird.” They also, he says, could be trained to open file drawers.

Robert Wallace, who headed the CIA’s Office of Technical Services in the 1990s, says the use of animals in intelligence has a long history. “Animals can go places people can’t. Animals are unalerting,” he told me. “The other side of the coin is that although animals can be trained, they have to be constantly trained. The upkeep, care and maintenance is significant.”

It is striking that even as the television program “Flipper” was making dolphins popular with American children, the creatures were becoming embroiled in the cold war arms race. As a partially declassified 1976 CIA document on naval dolphin training notes, the Soviets were “also assessing and replicating U.S. systems while possibly developing countermeasures to certain U.S. systems.” (The Navy still has its Marine Mammal Program, whose website notes that it “is an accredited member of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, an international organization committed to the care and conservation of marine mammals.”)

Even bugs—the kind with legs—were considered by the military establishment. “The Use of Arthropods as Personnel Detectors,” a 1972 report by the Army’s Limited Warfare Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland, summarizes research on the possibility of exploiting the “sensory capabilities of insects”—bedbugs, mosquitoes and ticks among them—“for the detection of people.” Scientists ruled out lice (“in a preliminary test they simply crawled about at random”) but saw “feasible” promise in the mosquito Anopheles quadrimaculatus, which “is normally at rest and will fly at the approach of a host,” and so might be used “to detect the approach of people during darkness.”

One of the first projects Bailey says he worked on involved creatures that, in many people’s minds, are beyond training: cats. While cats have a shorter history of domestication than dogs, Bailey insists it is “absolutely not true” that they cannot be trained.

In what has come to be called the “acoustic kitty” project, the CIA’s Directorate of Science and Technology proposed using a cat as a listening device. In their book Spycraft, the CIA’s Wallace and co-author H. Keith Melton write that the agency was targeting an Asian head of state for surveillance, and that “during the target’s long strategy sessions with his aides, cats wandered in and out of the meeting area.” The theory, says Bailey, was that no one would pay attention to the animals’ comings and goings.

“We found that we could condition the cat to listen to voices,” says Bailey. “We have no idea how we did it. But. we found that the cat would more and more listen to people’s voices, and listen less to other things.” Working with Robin Michelson, a California otolaryngologist and one of the inventors of the human cochlear implant, the team turned the cat into a transmitter—with, says Bailey, a wire running from the cat’s inner ear to a battery and instrument cluster implanted in its rib cage. The cat’s movements could be directed—left, right, straight ahead—with ultrasonic sound.

The fate of this asset has become serio-comic lore, obscured by conflicting accounts and CIA classification. Jeffrey Richelson, in his book The Wizards of Langley, quotes ex-CIA official Victor Marchetti on the program’s demise during a field trial: “They put [the cat] out of the van, and a taxi comes and runs him over. There they were, sitting in the van with all those dials, and the cat was dead!”

But Wallace disputes that. “It was a serious project,” he says. “The acoustic kitty was not killed by getting run over by a taxicab.” His source? “The guy who was a principal in the project.” Wallace says Bailey’s name is not familiar to him, though he adds that by the time he joined the agency, “the animal work was really historic.”

Bailey says ABE’s records were destroyed in a 1989 fire, and the CIA declined my request under the Freedom of Information Act for documents relating to animal training for intelligence activities, noting that even “the fact of the existence or nonexistence of requested records is currently and properly classified.” A CIA press officer told me, “Unfortunately, we cannot help you with this.” Thus the agency’s only official word on the project appears in “Views on Trained Cats,” a heavily redacted document in the National Security Archive at George Washington University. While acknowledging that “cats can indeed be trained to move short distances,” it concludes that “the program would not lend itself in a practical sense to our highly specialized needs.”

During the 1960s and 1970s, as dancing chickens entertained crowds at the I.Q. Zoo, Bailey and a handful of his colleagues were undertaking intelligence scenarios nearby. “We had a 270-acre farm,” he says. “We built towns. Like a movie set, there’d be only fronts.” Without disclosing who they were working for, Bailey had his team rearrange the town according to photographs they were given. There were also field demonstrations—including one at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. “‘This is the room we want to get to,’” Bailey says he was told. “ ‘Can you get your raven up there to deposit a device, and can we listen?’ Yes, we can.” The bird would be conditioned, via a laser spotter, to pick out the room. At Fort Bragg, North Carolina, Bailey created a so-called “squab squad,” pigeons that would fly ahead of a column and signal the presence of enemy soldiers by landing. In tests, the pigeons, says Bailey, thwarted more than 45 attempts by Special Forces troops to ambush a convoy. But, as was so often the case, field operations revealed a problem: There was no way to retrieve the pigeons if they saw no enemy troops.

When I ask Bailey if any of the various animal projects were ever used in real-world scenarios, he turns uncharacteristically laconic. But then a thin smile cracks his face. “We got the ravens into places. We got the cats into places,” he says. “Usually using diplomatic pouches.” He says he carried a raven aboard a commercial flight, against regulations. “It was in a map case under the front seat,” he says, “and every now and then the raven would make a noise.” He makes a low guttural groaning. “I’d be in my seat and I’d go like this,” he says, squirming.

But the nexus between the shadows and the midway proved brittle: When the Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities (also known as the Church Committee, for chairman Frank Church of Idaho) was formed in 1975 to investigate abuses of power at several U.S. intelligence agencies, including the CIA, ABE decided to end its intelligence work. And in 1990, the I.Q. Zoo served up its last match of chicken tick-tack-toe.

Over lunch at McClard’s Bar-B-Q (a favorite of former President Bill Clinton, who grew up in Hot Springs), Bailey notes that animal intelligence work of the sort he did has been rendered largely superfluous by technology. “Today, all you have to do is illuminate someone with an infrared laser and pick up the scatter back from that, and you can listen to their conversation without any trouble at all,” he says. “You don’t need a cat.”

But that doesn’t mean Bailey is done. He’s been working with security agencies in Europe, he says, on training dogs, via acoustic signals, to perform any number of security tasks. “There’s nothing that can run up stairs like a dog,” he says. “It has a billion years of evolution behind it.”

Rely on firsthand information from people you trust rather than on media spin. When you hear someone making generalizations about a group of people, imagine they are talking about you and react accordingly. If people insist on spouting back headlines and talking points, make them prove it, in their own words.

Every day I hear from those with means with children at private schools who are being brainwashed people who run companies where they are scared of their own employees people who donate to their alma mater even though it betrays their principles. Enough. You have the ability to build new things. If you don’t have the financial capital, you have the social or political capital. Or the ability to sweat. The work of our lifetimes is the Great Build. Let’s go.

How To Track Router History & Monitor Internet Activity

There is no direct way to access someone’s search history – even if they are connected to your home router. That said, you can set up your router to log a user’s browser history. In this guide, we’ll show you how you can do just that.

However, collecting data such as someone’s browsing history is a violation of their privacy. You should avoid accessing other people’s private browsing history and confine this method to legitimate uses such as monitoring your child’s internet usage, or your own.

The Advantages Of Router Tracking

There is third-party software that uses parental control to track a family member’s browsing activity. However, any tech-savvy individual can discover workarounds with a simple Google search. Even worse, some of these tools have to be installed on the target computer.

But by monitoring user activity through your router, you can be a bit more discreet about it. It is also harder to remove by the computer user.

Your router stores all sites users visit – even ones that were accessed through Incognito Mode.

How To Access Your Router Settings

For this to work, you need to be able to enter your router settings page. You will need to know your IP address to proceed.

  • To find out your IP address, open Run and type CMD. Click OK.

  • The string of numbers parallel with Default Gateway is your IP address. Copy that value and paste it in any web browser. If you are connected to your browser, this would open your router settings.

Enter Your Login Credentials

A lot of people, surprisingly, have no clue what their login credentials are. Chances are, your router was set up by someone else. But there’s no need to worry. We’ll show you how to access your router settings.

All routers come with documentation, including the default values for both username and password. But if you no longer have that in your possession, you can try logging in using the most common default router credentials:

If that doesn’t work, you can always check online. With some luck, you’ll find the default credentials for your specific wireless router brand and model.

However, it’s possible that your router had been configured before and that the login had been changed to something else. In that case, you can reset your router to bring it back to its default settings. Resetting your router means you’ll have to reconfigure the SSID and password.

If you’re still using the default router username and password, you should take this opportunity to update it to something more secure. Once you have your login credentials, log into your router settings page.

See User Activity

Router settings vary depending on your router’s brand. However, most routers have a feature called Logs. This feature lists down all the IP addresses that are connected to your router. This is also where all browsing activity is stored.

Before you check the logs, you should know the target device’s IP address.

Go to Attached Devices. This feature may go by a different name on your device. But basically, you’re looking for a page that displays all the IP addresses of connected devices.

Once you figure out which one belongs to your target, list it down for the time being. You will be referring to it later on.

Now, click Logs to display all the sites that were visited while connected to your router.

You’ll be presented a list of domains or destination IPs along with the IP address of the user. Use your target’s IP address to track their internet activity.

The Log is disabled by default. To track user activity, you must first enable the feature.

Christopher Jan Benitez is a freelance writer for hire who provides actionable and useful web content to small businesses and startups. In his spare time, he religiously watches professional wrestling and finds solace in listening to '80s speed metal. Read Christopher's Full Bio

6 Germany

The German government has a hit list even though it does not handle its own dirty work. That is the responsibility of the United States. Germany passes details about targets to the US, which adds them to the Joint Prioritized Effects List (JPEL), a hit list of 3,000 drug dealers, Taliban, and Al-Qaeda fighters operating in Afghanistan.

Targets listed on the JPEL are hunted by Task Force 373 (now called Task Force 3-10), a secret US team operating in Afghanistan. [5] Troops on the team are ordered to capture or kill people on the list. However, they will often kill because it can be difficult to capture targets who resist arrest or attempt to escape.

Top 10 Nearly Extinct Household Items

Growing up in the 1950s-1980s we were surrounded by household items that we just took for granted. They were part of our everyday lives, some decorative, most functional, sometimes both. And pretty much everywhere you went, everyone had them, your family, your neighbors, your friends. Sadly, today many of these old household staples are disappearing, going the way of the icebox, the hand crank telephone on the wall or the coal bin in the basement &ndash things that everyone knew in the 1920s but were pretty much gone when I was a kid in the 1960s-1970s. Of course we are all nostalgic for &ldquothe way it used to be&rdquo and glamorize things that really were not all that great for our parents, but for which we have fond memories as children. Still, it is sad to see some of these items disappearing. And for those commenter&rsquos who are hung up on &ldquoAmerican-centrist&rdquo lists, that&rsquos all I can write about because, obviously, that is where I grew up. Did other countries have some or all of these normal household items back in the 1950s-1980s? Probably. Or at least I think so. Anyway, here is a list of the top ten common household items that are going extinct.

For most households, food was eaten at the dinner table, and nowhere else. But if you were having a party and needed to spread out, there were the ubiquitous table trays. People could eat their piece of birthday cake and drink their glass of lemonade using one of these easy to fold and put together metal table trays. The trays usually had some sort of floral pattern on them, or some festive scene. They usually came six trays to a storage rack. The rack had a handle to carry them around. You could find the rack with the six trays neatly folded and positioned somewhere out of the way, beside the sofa and against the wall. Maybe hidden inside a coat closet. But they were always there. As kids we would set these trays up around the living room, get blankets, drape them over the trays, and use it as a fort. You seldom see these folding table tray sets anymore.

What family living-room or den did not have a hassock (often referred to as a &ldquopoof&rdquo in non-US English)? Those (usually) round, Naugahyde, vinyl or leather-covered foot rests that no one ever seemed to use to rest their feet on. In fact, in my entire life, I can hardly remember seeing anyone actually using a hassock for the purpose for which it was intended. But they were always there, silent sentinels in their garish colors, guarding the TV set.

Mothers were really good at placing seasonal decorations around the house. As a kid, you didn&rsquot need to have a calendar or even know what month it was. Just look around the house and mom was on it. Shamrocks and leprechauns hanging on the front door? It was St Patrick&rsquos Day. Cornucopias and pilgrims? Thanksgiving. Eggs and bunny rabbits clinging to the windows? Easter. Mom has a closet somewhere in the house where she kept all this stuff, and she needed a lot of it. Valentines, Fourth of July flags, Halloween ghosts and witches on brooms. And of course, lots of Christmas decorations. People today seem to keep the Christmas decorative spirit alive, and some of the other big ones like Halloween and Easter. But you see less and less of the Lincoln and Washington cut out busts hanging on the door. Only the truly dedicated seasonal decorator was all over Presidents Day. I think that is sad I think we move too fast and are not as in touch with the changes to the seasons and the various signposts along the way. Valentines into St Patrick&rsquos Day. Easter into Mothers Day. Fourth of July into Halloween. Halloween into Thanksgiving and then Christmas.

When I was in fourth grade, all the way back in 1968, our teacher told us someday TV sets would hang on the wall like pictures. At a time when few of us even had color TV sets in the house that was kind of hard to imagine. But she was right, it has come to pass that almost all TV sets today hang on the walls. And while these TV sets are fantastic, you seldom see the old TV sets that were made to be another piece of furniture in the house. Decorative sets made of wood that sat on four legs, on the floor, usually in the corner of the living room (with one of mom&rsquos seasonal decorations sitting on top).

And since most people have cable or satellite TV, they also do not have the other staple of TV communication &ndash the rooftop antennae. Setting up, positioning, and repairing the rooftop TV antennae was the suburban equivalent of medieval jousting. All suburban dads had to do it to prove their manhood. There they would be, in all weather, up there on the roof, precariously perched near the electrical and phone wires, trying to get the antennae positioned just right to bring in some far-off TV station they wanted (usually so they could watch a boxing match, football game, or other sporting event). Or more frequently, just to get the damn thing to work. Suburbia and cities used to have a skyline of various size and shapes of TV antennae. Not anymore. Now you have over-sized pizza pans pointed at the sky. And some guy from the satellite company comes and works on it if it needs repaired. Dads are off the hook. Still, the poor reception we get on our TVs when it rains, or when we have a bad cable connection, are far removed from the days of trying to watch a TV show through the snow, static, and rolling picture that used to come as a routine part of antennae sets.

One of the best memories of these old TV sets came several years back when we inherited an old black and white TV from my wife&rsquos grandparents. I brought it home and plugged it in and got my two teenage sons with me to turn it on to see if it still worked. I switched on the set and nothing happened. They immediately gave up, thinking, &ldquothat&rsquos it, the set is broke.&rdquo I knew better, of course, and told them to wait. About 30 seconds later, after the old vacuum tubes warmed up, the set made that unmistakable sound we all remember TV sets making as they switched on, that sci-fi like noise, and the picture slowly started coming on as a dot in the middle of the screen that slowly got larger and larger. My boys were beside themselves screaming &ndash &ldquoTV sets really do that?!&rdquo &ldquoNo way!&rdquo &ldquoThey really do make that noise?!&rdquo &ldquoYou&rsquore kidding?!&rdquo &ldquoWe thought that was made up?!&rdquo No, I told them, that was how all TV sets used to start, you turned them on, waited, and hoped.

My grandmother had a foot-pump sewing machine, but when I was a kid they were already antiques. Every woman had a sewing machine, usually a Singer model in a case that she could get out of the closet, put on the table, plug in, and sew away. What a fantastic skill to have, to be able to sew. To put patches on our uniforms. To repair torn clothing. To make a new dress from a pattern. It seemed all mothers had that skill when I was a kid and it was commonplace to see the family sewing machine being used. Something else that you seldom see.

Before everyone had window air-conditioners, and then central air-conditioning, people did one thing in the summer months. They sweat. Summer months, especially July and August, were something that had to be endured. Unless you went to a public place like a movie theater, there was no air-conditioning. If it was 95 and humid outside, your house was even hotter and more uncomfortable. Trying to sleep at night was a real difficulty. The old window fan that rattled away and sucked in slightly less hot air from the outside, during the night, was a staple of all households. Many other rooms had floor fans that you could plug in and circulate the hot humid air around the room at your feet. Or as a kid you could turn it on and lay on the floor with your face in it, feeling the moving air. With central air-conditioning being almost universal now, homes seldom use window or floor fans. Dads around the world no longer have the joy of cramming the window fan into the window, adjusting it, screwing it into place, and then taking it out come fall.

And speaking of dad wrestling with windows, he had another biannual job to do, one even more hated than window fans. Putting in and taking out storm windows and screen windows. Again, in this age of air-conditioning and well fitted, double-panned, thermally insulated year-round windows, no one has to switch between storm windows in the winter and screens in the summer. But back then, this was a necessity. Screen windows had to be installed in the summer so you could let the air in without the bugs. Then at the end of the summer, the screen windows had to come out and the storm windows went back in. These storm windows were pathetic compared to modern windows &ndash heavy, single-pane glass monstrosities that were hard to fit into the window slats and once in, rattled in the strong winter winds (and did a poor job keeping out the cold and wind). But like everything else back then, they were all you had. So they had to do. Thankfully, men don&rsquot need to haul these things around and climb ladders to change windows anymore.

Family wall telephones were in every house back then. There may have also been some pedestal phone sitting on a coffee table or in your sister&rsquos room. But somewhere, usually on the first floor, there was a phone hanging on the wall. Usually it came in the standard color &ndash black. When it rang everyone knew someone was calling. The phone was usually located near some piece of furniture which had a drawer which contained two other disappearing pieces of the family household &ndash the Yellow Pages phone directory, and mom&rsquos little phone message book (that&rsquos right, they had an app. for that even back then &ndash it was called writing down the persons name and phone number in a little A-Z book). The original wall telephones came standard with 4-6 foot cords, so you pretty much had to stand at the phone to talk to whoever it was you were conversing with. Later on they developed 12 and even 18 foot long cords so mom could stretch that receiver over to the stove and keep cooking while she talked. We had one friend who had a mom who stretched their 6-foot cord into an 18-footer. We always joked she invented the extended reach telephone cord. Of course with cell phones, few people even have a phone in the house anymore, and the Yellow Pages may soon be extinct.

Every house had multiple sets of playing cards. Pinochle, bridge, or straight decks, usually all three. The area I grew up in was huge for pinochle, everyone had pinochle decks. You could walk into any corner store, department store, or convenience store and they sold decks of pinochle cards. Not anymore, pinochle decks are hard to find. They just don&rsquot sell, so the stores stopped carrying them.

Playing cards was a social thing everyone seemed to do. Kids would get out cards and play a game of &ldquowar.&rdquo Mom would have pinochle or bridge parties and all her friends would come over, dressed to the nines, and mom would bring out all her best glassware. Dad might have some buddies over to drink beer and play poker. Card playing was just part of our lives. Sadly, we are not as social as we used to be, friends don&rsquot just pop in to say hello and a card game spontaneously erupts. Moms don&rsquot have regular card parties. If we play cards, it is on our smart phones or computers. Like that book &ldquoBowling Alone,&rdquo we still play cards, just not with other people. How sad.

Of all the old household items I miss from my childhood, this is #1. The backyard burn barrel. It was a rusty old empty 55-gallon drum dad brought home from work or found at a junkyard, or God knows where he got it. In the autumn, my favorite time of the year, you knew winter was coming because the geese were flying south, you were playing football, school had started, and the smell of burning leaves was in the air (oh yeah, mom had the Halloween decorations up too). Everyone had one of these in their backyards to burn their fallen leaves. There were no curbside pick-ups to recycle the leaves back then. You just raked them up, and burned them. My mom loved it. She would stand there with an old broom stick handle, blackened at one end, and stir the smoldering leaves to get more air to them so they would combust better. We would rake up the leaves and walk over and dump arm fulls into the burning barrel. Then my mom would stir it like a witch attending her cauldron. There was just nothing like the smell of burning leaves in the autumn, and there still isn&rsquot to this day. Most municipalities and cities banned the burning of leaves decades ago, so it is something you only found in more rural areas. Machines come around and vacuum up your leaves at the curb. Perhaps more environmentally friendly, but we have lost that wonderful seasonal odor as a result.

Remember S&H Green Stamps your parents would get when they bought groceries and other stuff? You had those little books and you would save the stamps all year. Then one day your parents would break out the box of stamps and the books and you would all gather at the table and have a green stamp-sticking party. By the end you were down to the little tiny one-cent stamps, trying to fill that last book (and your fingers were green). Then you counted your books and got out the S&H Green Stamp catalog and looked to see what you could redeem your stamps for. Ten books got you a new basketball! Twenty-five books got mom a new frying pan. Thirty-five books got you a new cooler, or the ubiquitous American eagle table lamp. The stuff you were able to get with your S&H Green Stamp books could be found all over the house. This explains why every house in the 1970s had the Bicentennial American eagle table lamps. It also explains why so many houses had #10 and #9.

15 Incredible Historic Women You Should Know

March is Women’s History Month, and there’s no shortage of important women to celebrate. From fierce warriors to beloved poets, political activists to fearsome pirates, many women have made their mark on history, even if they aren't household names. To celebrate the many achievements of women, here are 15 incredible women you may not know about, but probably should.


One of the first internationally famous African American artists, Edmonia Lewis was born in New York in 1844 and studied art at Oberlin College before becoming a professional sculptor. She was known for her marble busts of famous abolitionists like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Horace Greeley, and her patrons included President Ulysses S. Grant.


One the great poets of Ancient Greece, Anyte (3rd century BCE) was one of the earliest poets to write primarily about the natural world and not the supernatural, focusing on plants and animals instead of the gods. Anyte was famous for writing epitaphs, many of which were humorous in tone. In one, she satirized the seriousness of most human epitaphs by commemorating the life of a cicada kept as a pet by a little girl. She wrote, "Myro, a girl, letting fall a child's tears, raised this little tomb for the locust that sang in the seed-land and for the oak-dwelling cicada implacable Hades holds their double song." More of Anyte's works survive to this day than any other female Greek poet.


Botanist and explorer Jeanne Baret was the first woman to circumnavigate the globe. In 1766, the 26-year-old French woman boarded a ship disguised as a man named “Jean” and proceeded to sail around the world, collecting and studying plant samples with her paramour, the botanist Philibert Commercon. Her true gender was finally discovered somewhere in the South Pacific, and she and Commercon were kicked off the ship in Mauritius. Baret finally returned to France nearly a decade later, where she was lauded by the government as an “extraordinary woman” for her botanical work.


British inventor Sarah Guppy received 10 patents during her lifetime for a truly eclectic range of inventions. From a coffee maker that used its excess steam to boil eggs and warm toast to a device for removing barnacles from the bottoms of ships (for which the British Navy paid £40,000), Guppy was an unstoppable force in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. And her designs can still be seen: the stunning Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol would not have been possible without her 1811 plans for piling the foundations on either side of the Avon Gorge.


Sixteenth-century Islamic pirate queen Sayyida Al Hurra was both the governor of the city of Tétouan in Northern Morocco and a legendary pirate who ruled much of the western Mediterranean Sea for nearly 30 years, wreaking havoc on Spanish and Portuguese ships between 1515 and 1542. Though her real name is unknown, the honorary title "Sayyida Al Hurra" translates to "noble lady who is free and independent the woman sovereign who bows to no superior authority." She was also the last woman to hold the Al Hurra title.


Mirabai, also known as Meera, was a 16th-century Indian poet who wrote numerous bhajans (prayerful songs) to the Hindu god Krishna. Mirabai was born into a wealthy family, but she eschewed her aristocratic life, devoting herself fully to the worship of Krishna and the singing of bhajans.


Seventeenth-century playwright, novelist, poet, and government spy Aphra Behn may have been the first woman in England to earn her living as a professional writer. Though many men of her time vocally disapproved of female writers in general—and of the often risqué content of Behn’s writing specifically—her theatrical works were popular with audiences. Behn worked for most of her adult life as a writer, but took a brief break from the literary world from 1666 through 1667 when she traveled to Antwerp under the name "Astrea" to work as a spy for Charles II.


Sometimes called the Vietnamese Joan of Arc, Triệu Thi Trinh (3rd century BCE) was a warrior who led a rebel army against Chinese invaders. Legend has it that she was 9 feet tall and fought over 30 battles against the Chinese, sometimes riding an elephant. When someone tried to discourage her from fighting, she famously said, "I will not resign myself to the lot of women who bow their heads and become concubines. I wish to ride the tempest, tame the waves, kill the sharks. I have no desire to take abuse."


Born into slavery in Georgia in 1837, Harriet Powers became known as one of the greatest Southern textile artists in United States history. Throughout her life Powers used intricate quilts to tell stories, stitching stunning and elaborate images from Bible stories, myths, and celestial phenomena while also drawing on West African artistic traditions. Only two of her quilts survive today one is held by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, and the other by Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts.


Abolitionist sisters Sarah and Angelina Grimke were 19th-century orators and educators who traveled America lecturing on the horrors of slavery, and who penned numerous abolitionist tracts. They also spoke frequently on behalf of women’s rights, and were considered radical for arguing not only for the abolition of slavery, but in support of genuine racial and gender equality.


Nineteenth-century culinary expert Fannie Farmer is often called the "mother of level measurements." Farmer, who was born in Boston in 1857 and whose cookbooks are still in print over a century after their initial publication, helped standardize the cooking measurements which we now take for granted.


A great Apache warrior, Lozen rebelled after she and her family were forced onto a reservation in the 1870s. Together with her brother Victorio, she led a band of warriors, raiding the lands that were taken from them by settlers. "Lozen is my right hand … strong as a man, braver than most, and cunning in strategy," Victorio famously said of his sister. "Lozen is a shield to her people."


Chinese feminist, revolutionary, poet, and eventual martyr, Qiu Jin fought for women's access to education and against foot binding, founded a feminist journal, and fought against the Qing Dynasty before being executed in 1907 at age 31 after a failed uprising. She often wrote poetry about current events and historical female warriors and is considered a national hero by many in China.


Born in Maine in 1838, Margaret E. Knight went from working in a factory to inventing a product that would change the world—or, at least, the way we package groceries—forever: the paper bag. Knight created a machine that could mass-produce paper bags with flat bottoms (while earlier paper bags existed, they were more like flat envelopes). Her creation not only had a huge impact on the paper industry at the time, but machines based on Knight’s original design are still in use to this day.


British astronomer Caroline Herschel was born in Germany in 1750 and spent her early years doing housework for her parents (she once called herself the "Cinderella of the family"). She later moved to England to help her astronomer brother run his household and became a great astronomer in her own right. Not only was Herschel the first woman to discover a comet, but she was the first woman to have her scientific writings published and to be paid for her work.


Stability of the solid Edit

Anhydrous sodium hypochlorite can be prepared but, like many hypochlorites, it is highly unstable and decomposes explosively on heating or friction. [2] The decomposition is accelerated by carbon dioxide at atmospheric levels. [3] [11] It is a white solid with the orthorhombic crystal structure. [12]

Sodium hypochlorite can also be obtained as a crystalline pentahydrate NaOCl ·5 H
2 O , which is not explosive and is much more stable than the anhydrous compound. [3] [4] The formula is sometimes given as 2 NaOCl ·10 H
2 O . [ citation needed ] The transparent, light greenish-yellow orthorhombic [13] [14] crystals contain 44% NaOCl by weight and melt at 25–27 °C. The compound decomposes rapidly at room temperature, so it must be kept under refrigeration. At lower temperatures, however, it is quite stable: reportedly only 1% decomposition after 360 days at 7 °C. [5] [15]

A 1966 US patent claims that stable solid sodium hypochlorite dihydrate NaOCl ·2 H
2 O can be obtained by carefully excluding chloride ions ( Cl −
), which are present in the output of common manufacturing processes and are said to catalyze the decomposition of hypochlorite into chlorate ( ClO −
3 ) and chloride. In one test, the dihydrate was claimed to show only 6% decomposition after 13.5 months storage at −25 °C. The patent also claims that the dihydrate can be reduced to the anhydrous form by vacuum drying at about 50 °C, yielding a solid that showed no decomposition after 64 hours at −25 °C. [16]

Equilibria and stability of solutions Edit

At typical ambient temperatures, sodium hypochlorite is more stable in dilute solutions that contain solvated Na +
and OCl −
ions. The density of the solution is 1.093 g/mL at 5% concentration, [17] and 1.21 g/mL at 14%, 20 °C. [18] Stoichiometric solutions are fairly alkaline, with pH 11 or higher [5] since hypochlorous acid is a weak acid:

The following species and equilibria are present in solutions of NaOCl : [19]

The second equilibrium equation above will be shifted to the right if the chlorine Cl
2 is allowed to escape as gas. The ratios of Cl
2 , HOCl, and OCl −
in solution are also pH dependent. At pH below 2, the majority of the chlorine in the solution is in the form of dissolved elemental Cl
2 . At pH greater than 7.4, the majority is in the form of hypochlorite ClO −
. [6] The equilibrium can be shifted by adding acids (such as hydrochloric acid) or bases (such as sodium hydroxide) to the solution:

At a pH of about 4, such as obtained by the addition of strong acids like hydrochloric acid, the amount of undissociated (nonionized) HOCl is highest. The reaction can be written as:

Sodium hypochlorite solutions combined with acid evolve chlorine gas, particularly strongly at pH < 2, by the reactions:

At pH > 8, the chlorine is practically all in the form of hypochlorite anions ( OCl −
). The solutions are fairly stable at pH 11–12. Even so, one report claims that a conventional 13.6% NaOCl reagent solution lost 17% of its strength after being stored for 360 days at 7 °C. [5] For this reason, in some applications one may use more stable chlorine-releasing compounds, such as calcium hypochlorite Ca(ClO)
2 or trichloroisocyanuric acid (CNClO)
3 .

Anhydrous sodium hypochlorite is soluble in methanol, and solutions are stable. [ citation needed ]

Decomposition to chlorate or oxygen Edit

In solution, under certain conditions, the hypochlorite anion may also disproportionate (autoxidize) to chloride and chlorate: [20]

In particular, this reaction occurs in sodium hypochlorite solutions at high temperatures, forming sodium chlorate and sodium chloride: [20] [21]

3 NaOCl (aq) → 2 NaCl (aq) + NaClO
3 (aq)

This reaction is exploited in the industrial production of sodium chlorate.

An alternative decomposition of hypochlorite produces oxygen instead:

In hot sodium hypochlorite solutions, this reaction competes with chlorate formation, yielding sodium chloride and oxygen gas: [20]

2 NaOCl (aq) → 2 NaCl (aq) + O
2 (g)

These two decomposition reactions of NaClO solutions are maximized at pH around 6. The chlorate-producing reaction predominates at pH above 6, while the oxygen one becomes significant below that. For example, at 80 °C, with NaOCl and NaCl concentrations of 80 mM, and pH 6–6.5, the chlorate is produced with ∼95% efficiency. The oxygen pathway predominates at pH 10. [20] This decomposition is affected by light [21] and metal ion catalysts such as copper, nickel, cobalt, [20] and iridium. [22] Catalysts like sodium dichromate Na
2 Cr
2 O
7 and sodium molybdate Na
2 MoO
4 may be added industrially to reduce the oxygen pathway, but a report claims that only the latter is effective. [20]

Titration Edit

Titration of hypochlorite solutions is often done by adding a measured sample to an excess amount of acidified solution of potassium iodide ( KI ) and then titrating the liberated iodine ( I
2 ) with a standard solution of sodium thiosulfate or phenyl arsine oxide, using starch as indicator, until the blue color disappears. [14]

According to one US patent, the stability of sodium hypochlorite content of solids or solutions can be determined by monitoring the infrared absorption due to the O–Cl bond. The characteristic wavelength is given as 140.25 μm for water solutions, 140.05 μm for the solid dihydrate NaOCl·2 H
2 O , and 139.08 μm for the anhydrous mixed salt Na
2 (OCl)(OH) . [16]

Oxidation of organic compounds Edit

Oxidation of starch by sodium hypochlorite, that adds carbonyl and carboxyl groups, is relevant to the production of modified starch products. [23]

In the presence of a phase-transfer catalyst, alcohols are oxidized to the corresponding carbonyl compound (aldehyde or ketone). [24] [5] Sodium hypochlorite can also oxidize organic sulfides to sulfoxides or sulfones, disulfides or thiols to sulfonyl chlorides or bromides, imines to oxaziridines. [5] It can also de-aromatize phenols. [5]

Oxidation of metals and complexes Edit

Heterogeneous reactions of sodium hypochlorite and metals such as zinc proceed slowly to give the metal oxide or hydroxide:

Homogeneous reactions with metal coordination complexes proceed somewhat faster. This has been exploited in the Jacobsen epoxidation.

Other reactions Edit

If not properly stored in airtight containers, sodium hypochlorite reacts with carbon dioxide to form sodium carbonate:

Sodium hypochlorite reacts with most nitrogen compounds to form volatile monochloramine, dichloramines, and nitrogen trichloride:

Neutralization Edit

Sodium thiosulfate is an effective chlorine neutralizer. Rinsing with a 5 mg/L solution, followed by washing with soap and water, will remove chlorine odor from the hands. [25]

Chlorination of soda Edit

Potassium hypochlorite was first produced in 1789 by Claude Louis Berthollet in his laboratory on the Quai de Javel in Paris, France, by passing chlorine gas through a solution of potash lye. The resulting liquid, known as "Eau de Javel" ("Javel water"), was a weak solution of potassium hypochlorite. Antoine Labarraque replaced potash lye by the cheaper soda lye, thus obtaining sodium hypochlorite (Eau de Labarraque). [26] [27]

Cl2 (g) + 2 NaOH (aq) → NaCl (aq) + NaClO (aq) + H2O (aq)

Hence, chlorine is simultaneously reduced and oxidized this process is known as disproportionation.

The process is also used to prepare the pentahydrate NaOCl ·5 H
2 O for industrial and laboratory use. In a typical process, chlorine gas is added to a 45–48% NaOH solution. Some of the sodium chloride precipitates and is removed by filtration, and the pentahydrate is then obtained by cooling the filtrate to 12 °C . [5]

From calcium hypochlorite Edit

Another method involved the reaction of sodium carbonate ("washing soda") with chlorinated lime ("bleaching powder"), a mixture of calcium hypochlorite Ca(OCl)
2 , calcium chloride CaCl
2 , and calcium hydroxide Ca(OH)
2 :

This method was commonly used to produce hypochlorite solutions for use as a hospital antiseptic that was sold after World War I under the names "Eusol", an abbreviation for Edinburgh University Solution Of (chlorinated) Lime – a reference to the university's pathology department, where it was developed. [28]

Electrolysis of brine Edit

Near the end of the nineteenth century, E. S. Smith patented the chloralkali process: a method of producing sodium hypochlorite involving the electrolysis of brine to produce sodium hydroxide and chlorine gas, which then mixed to form sodium hypochlorite. [29] [27] [30] The key reactions are:

2 Cl − → Cl2 + 2 e − (at the anode) 2 H
2 O + 2 e − → H
2 + 2 HO −
(at the cathode)

Both electric power and brine solution were in cheap supply at the time, and various enterprising marketers took advantage of the situation to satisfy the market's demand for sodium hypochlorite. Bottled solutions of sodium hypochlorite were sold under numerous trade names.

Today, an improved version of this method, known as the Hooker process (named after Hooker Chemicals, acquired by Occidental Petroleum), is the only large-scale industrial method of sodium hypochlorite production. In the process, sodium hypochlorite (NaClO) and sodium chloride (NaCl) are formed when chlorine is passed into cold dilute sodium hydroxide solution. The chlorine is prepared industrially by electrolysis with minimal separation between the anode and the cathode. The solution must be kept below 40 °C (by cooling coils) to prevent the undesired formation of sodium chlorate.

Commercial solutions always contain significant amounts of sodium chloride (common salt) as the main by-product, as seen in the equation above.

From hypochlorous acid and soda Edit

A 1966 patent describes the production of solid stable dihydrate NaOCl ·2 H
2 O by reacting a chloride-free solution of hypochlorous acid HClO (such as prepared from chlorine monoxide ClO and water), with a concentrated solution of sodium hydroxide. In a typical preparation, 255 mL of a solution with 118 g/L HClO is slowly added with stirring to a solution of 40 g of NaOH in water 0 °C. Some sodium chloride precipitates and is removed by fitration. The solution is vacuum evaporated at 40–50 °C and 1–2 mmHg until the dihydrate crystallizes out. The crystals are vacuum-dried to produce a free-flowing crystalline powder. [16]

The same principle was used in another 2050 patent to produce concentrated slurries of the pentahydrate NaClO·5 H
2 O . Typically, a 35% solution (by weight) of HClO is combined with sodium hydroxide at about or below 25 °C. The resulting slurry contains about 35% NaClO, and are relatively stable due to the low concentration of chloride. [31]

From ozone and salt Edit

Sodium hypochlorite can be easily produced for research purposes by reacting ozone with salt.

This reaction happens at room temperature and can be helpful for oxidizing alcohols.

Household bleach sold for use in laundering clothes is a 3–8% solution of sodium hypochlorite at the time of manufacture. Strength varies from one formulation to another and gradually decreases with long storage. Sodium hydroxide is usually added in small amounts to household bleach to slow down the decomposition of NaClO. [6]

Domestic use patio blackspot remover products are

10% solutions of sodium hypochlorite.

A 10–25% solution of sodium hypochlorite is, according to Univar's safety sheet, supplied with synonyms or trade names bleach, Hypo, Everchlor, Chloros, Hispec, Bridos, Bleacol, or Vo-redox 9110. [32]

A 12% solution is widely used in waterworks for the chlorination of water, and a 15% solution is more commonly [33] used for disinfection of waste water in treatment plants. Sodium hypochlorite can also be used for point-of-use disinfection of drinking water, [34] taking 0.2-2 mg of sodium hypochlorite per liter of water. [35]

Dilute solutions (50 ppm to 1.5%) are found in disinfecting sprays and wipes used on hard surfaces. [36] [37]

Bleaching Edit

Household bleach is, in general, a solution containing 3–8% sodium hypochlorite, by weight, and 0.01–0.05% sodium hydroxide the sodium hydroxide is used to slow the decomposition of sodium hypochlorite into sodium chloride and sodium chlorate. [38]

Cleaning Edit

Sodium hypochlorite has destaining properties. [39] Among other applications, it can be used to remove mold stains, dental stains caused by fluorosis, [40] and stains on crockery, especially those caused by the tannins in tea. It has also been used in laundry detergents and as a surface cleaner.

Its bleaching, cleaning, deodorizing and caustic effects are due to oxidation and hydrolysis (saponification). Organic dirt exposed to hypochlorite becomes water-soluble and non-volatile, which reduces its odor and facilitates its removal.

Disinfection Edit

Sodium hypochlorite in solution exhibits broad spectrum anti-microbial activity and is widely used in healthcare facilities in a variety of settings. [41] It is usually diluted in water depending on its intended use. "Strong chlorine solution" is a 0.5% solution of hypochlorite (containing approximately 5000 ppm free chlorine) used for disinfecting areas contaminated with body fluids, including large blood spills (the area is first cleaned with detergent before being disinfected). [41] [42] It may be made by diluting household bleach as appropriate (normally 1 part bleach to 9 parts water). [43] Such solutions have been demonstrated to inactivate both C. difficile [41] and HPV. [44] "Weak chlorine solution" is a 0.05% solution of hypochlorite used for washing hands, but is normally prepared with calcium hypochlorite granules. [42]

"Dakin's Solution" is a disinfectant solution containing low concentration of sodium hypochlorite and some boric acid or sodium bicarbonate to stabilize the pH. It has been found to be effective with NaOCl concentrations as low as 0.025%. [45]

US government regulations allow food processing equipment and food contact surfaces to be sanitized with solutions containing bleach, provided that the solution is allowed to drain adequately before contact with food, and that the solutions do not exceed 200 parts per million (ppm) available chlorine (for example, one tablespoon of typical household bleach containing 5.25% sodium hypochlorite, per gallon of water). [46] If higher concentrations are used, the surface must be rinsed with potable water after sanitizing.

A similar concentration of bleach in warm water is used to sanitize surfaces prior to brewing of beer or wine. Surfaces must be rinsed with sterilized (boiled) water to avoid imparting flavors to the brew the chlorinated byproducts of sanitizing surfaces are also harmful. The mode of disinfectant action of sodium hypochlorite is similar to that of hypochlorous acid.

Solutions containing more than 500 ppm available chlorine are corrosive to some metals, alloys and many thermoplastics (such as acetal resin) and need to be thoroughly removed afterwards, so the bleach disinfection is sometimes followed by an ethanol disinfection. Liquids containing sodium hypochlorite as the main active component are also used for household cleaning and disinfection, for example toilet cleaners. [47] Some cleaners are formulated to be viscous so as not to drain quickly from vertical surfaces, such as the inside of a toilet bowl.

The undissociated (nonionized) hypochlorous acid is believed to react with and inactivate bacterial and viral enzymes.

Neutrophils of the human immune system produce small amounts of hypochlorite inside phagosomes, which digest bacteria and viruses.

Deodorizing Edit

Sodium hypochlorite has deodorizing properties, which go hand in hand with its cleaning properties. [39]

Waste water treatment Edit

Sodium hypochlorite solutions have been used to treat dilute cyanide waste water, such as electroplating wastes. In batch treatment operations, sodium hypochlorite has been used to treat more concentrated cyanide wastes, such as silver cyanide plating solutions. Toxic cyanide is oxidized to cyanate (OCN − ) that is not toxic, idealized as follows:

Sodium hypochlorite is commonly used as a biocide in industrial applications to control slime and bacteria formation in water systems used at power plants, pulp and paper mills, etc., in solutions typically of 10–15% by weight.

Endodontics Edit

Sodium hypochlorite is the medicament of choice due to its efficacy against pathogenic organisms and pulp digestion in endodontic therapy. Its concentration for use varies from 0.5% to 5.25%. At low concentrations it dissolves mainly necrotic tissue at higher concentrations it also dissolves vital tissue and additional bacterial species. One study has shown that Enterococcus faecalis was still present in the dentin after 40 minutes of exposure of 1.3% and 2.5% sodium hypochlorite, whereas 40 minutes at a concentration of 5.25% was effective in E. faecalis removal. [48] In addition to higher concentrations of sodium hypochlorite, longer time exposure and warming the solution (60 °C) also increases its effectiveness in removing soft tissue and bacteria within the root canal chamber. [48] 2% is a common concentration as there is less risk of an iatrogenic hypochlorite incident. [49] A hypochlorite incident is an immediate reaction of severe pain, followed by edema, haematoma, and ecchymosis as a consequence of the solution escaping the confines of the tooth and entering the periapical space. This may be caused by binding or excessive pressure on the irrigant syringe, or it may occur if the tooth has an unusually large apical foramen. [50]

Nerve agent neutralization Edit

At the various nerve agent (chemical warfare nerve gas) destruction facilities throughout the United States, 50% sodium hypochlorite is used to remove all traces of nerve agent or blister agent from Personal Protection Equipment after an entry is made by personnel into toxic areas. 50% sodium hypochlorite is also used to neutralize any accidental releases of nerve agent in the toxic areas. Lesser concentrations of sodium hypochlorite are used in similar fashion in the Pollution Abatement System to ensure that no nerve agent is released in furnace flue gas.

Reduction of skin damage Edit

Dilute bleach baths have been used for decades to treat moderate to severe eczema in humans, [51] [52] but it has not been clear why they work. According to work published by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine in November 2013, a very dilute (0.005%) solution of sodium hypochlorite in water was successful in treating skin damage with an inflammatory component caused by radiation therapy, excess sun exposure or aging in laboratory mice. Mice with radiation dermatitis given daily 30-minute baths in bleach solution experienced less severe skin damage and better healing and hair regrowth than animals bathed in water. A molecule called nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B cells (NF-κB) is known to play a critical role in inflammation, aging, and response to radiation. The researchers found that if NF-κB activity was blocked in elderly mice by bathing them in bleach solution, the animals' skin began to look younger, going from old and fragile to thicker, with increased cell proliferation. The effect diminished after the baths were stopped, indicating that regular exposure was necessary to maintain skin thickness. [51] [53]

It is estimated that there are about 3,300 accidents needing hospital treatment caused by sodium hypochlorite solutions each year in British homes (RoSPA, 2002).

Oxidation and corrosion Edit

Sodium hypochlorite is a strong oxidizer. Oxidation reactions are corrosive. Solutions burn the skin and cause eye damage, especially when used in concentrated forms. As recognized by the NFPA, however, only solutions containing more than 40% sodium hypochlorite by weight are considered hazardous oxidizers. Solutions less than 40% are classified as a moderate oxidizing hazard (NFPA 430, 2000).

Household bleach and pool chlorinator solutions are typically stabilized by a significant concentration of lye (caustic soda, NaOH) as part of the manufacturing reaction. This additive will by itself cause caustic irritation or burns due to defatting and saponification of skin oils and destruction of tissue. The slippery feel of bleach on skin is due to this process.

Storage hazards Edit

Contact of sodium hypochlorite solutions with metals may evolve flammable hydrogen gas. Containers may explode when heated due to release of chlorine gas. [11]

Hypochlorite solutions are corrosive to common container materials such as stainless steel [5] and aluminium. The few compatible metals include titanium (which however is not compatible with dry chlorine) and tantalum. [6] Glass containers are safe. [5] Some plastics and rubbers are affected too safe choices include polyethylene (PE), high density polyethylene (HDPE, PE-HD), polypropylene (PP), [5] some chlorinated and fluorinated polymers such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), and polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) as well as ethylene propylene rubber, and Viton. [6]

Containers must allow venting of oxygen produced by decomposition over time, otherwise they may burst. [2]

Reactions with other common products Edit

Mixing bleach with some household cleaners can be hazardous.

Sodium hypochlorite solutions, such as liquid bleach, may release toxic chlorine gas when heated above 35 °C [11] or mixed with an acid, such as hydrochloric acid or vinegar.

A 2008 study indicated that sodium hypochlorite and organic chemicals (e.g., surfactants, fragrances) contained in several household cleaning products can react to generate chlorinated volatile organic compounds (VOCs). [54] These chlorinated compounds are emitted during cleaning applications, some of which are toxic and probable human carcinogens. The study showed that indoor air concentrations significantly increase (8–52 times for chloroform and 1–1170 times for carbon tetrachloride, respectively, above baseline quantities in the household) during the use of bleach containing products. The increase in chlorinated volatile organic compound concentrations was the lowest for plain bleach and the highest for the products in the form of "thick liquid and gel." The significant increases observed in indoor air concentrations of several chlorinated VOCs (especially carbon tetrachloride and chloroform) indicate that the bleach use may be a source that could be important in terms of inhalation exposure to these compounds. The authors suggested that using these cleaning products may significantly increase the cancer risk. [54]

In particular, mixing hypochlorite bleaches with amines (for example, cleaning products that contain or release ammonia, ammonium salts, urea, or related compounds and biological materials such as urine) produces chloramines. [55] [11] These gaseous products can cause acute lung injury. Chronic exposure, for example, from the air at swimming pools where chlorine is used as the disinfectant, can lead to the development of atopic asthma. [56]

Bleach can react violently with hydrogen peroxide and produce oxygen gas:

Explosive reactions or byproducts can also occur in industrial and laboratory settings when sodium hypochlorite is mixed with diverse organic compounds. [11]

Limitations in health care Edit

The UK's National Institute for Health and Care Excellence in October 2008 recommended that Dakin's solution should not be used in routine wound care. [57]

In spite of its strong biocidal action, sodium hypochlorite per se has limited environmental impact, since the hypochlorite ion rapidly degrades before it can be absorbed by living beings. [58]

However, one major concern arising from sodium hypochlorite use is that it tends to form persistent chlorinated organic compounds, including known carcinogens, that can be absorbed by organisms and enter the food chain. These compounds may be formed during household storage and use as well during industrial use. [38] For example, when household bleach and wastewater were mixed, 1–2% of the available chlorine was observed to form organic compounds. [38] As of 1994, not all the byproducts had been identified, but identified compounds include chloroform and carbon tetrachloride. [38] The estimated exposure to these chemicals from use is estimated to be within occupational exposure limits. [38]


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