The Human Body
Hydrogen peroxide is produced by numerous enzymes in the body. Particularly, some enzymes breaking down certain amino acids and fatty acids make significant amounts of hydrogen peroxide. Because hydrogen peroxide can be damaging to regular body tissue, these enzymes are stored inside specialized organelles inside cells called peroxisomes. The peroxisomes also contain large amounts of catalase to break down the hydrogen peroxide before it can diffuse.
Additionally, recent scientific examination of the cell cultures in human hair verifies that the cause of grey hair associated with human ageing is due to a substantial accumulation of hydrogen peroxide in the hair follicle. The hydrogen peroxide inhibits the synthesis of melanin, essentially bleaching the hair pigment from within.
Aesthetical and Cosmetic Uses
Hydrogen peroxide is becoming an increasingly popular choice in pulp bleaching processes due to the replacement of chlorinated bleaches with environmentally friendly bleach products. In the pulp and paper industry, hydrogen peroxide is used in three areas: for bleaching of cellulose, pulp bleaching, and for re-cycling waste paper (removing ink and colour from the paper).
Hydrogen peroxide has been used for years as a chemical treatment in municipal water systems. It has several benefits, including iron and hydrogen sulfide removal and the neutralization of tastes and odours.
Use in the textile industry is declining. In full bleaching, hydrogen peroxide is used before dyeing and for the oxidation of reductive dyes in dyeing. However, in general, hydrogen peroxide consumption for bleaching is increasing because it is seen as an environmentally harmless alternative to chlorine-based bleaches.
Due to its bleaching and antimicrobial properties, it is a popular household cleaning product and features as an ingredient in many.
Holistic and Medicinal
Although its medicinal benefits are yet to be proven scientifically, it is widely used as a holistic cure for many illnesses.