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Chlorine


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Chlorine Bleach (sodium hypochlorite)/ Sodium Dichloroisocyanurate/ Hydrogen Chloride/ Hydrochloric Acid.

Chlorine is a toxic yellow-green gas that is one of today's most heavily used chemical agents because of its corrosive nature. It rarely occurs in nature and is manufactured by passing an electrical current through salt water or melted salt. The current splits the salt molecules apart and creates chlorine.

Chlorine is used as an ingredient in household cleaners and in the process of making and bleaching paper. It is also found in scouring powders, laundry bleach, dishwasher detergent, and basin/tub/tile cleaners.

Chlorine is listed as an hazardous air pollutant in the 1990 Clean Air Act, and is on the EPA's Community Right-to-Know list. It is the chemical most frequently involved in household poisonings in the US and in industrial injuries/deaths.

Aside from the danger of irritating/damaging your lungs by breathing in the fumes of cleaners containing chlorine, it can also damage the skin, eyes and other membranes. People suffering from heart conditions or chronic respiratory problems (asthma, emphysema) are particularly at risk.

Chlorine also reacts readily with organic substances in the environment to create other hazardous compounds, such as:

• furans,

• trihalomethanes/chloroform,

• organochlorines/dioxins

Dioxin/Organochloines

When wood pulp or recycled paper is bleached, the toxic substances known as dioxins and organochlorines (a group of 75 different chemicals) are created and discharged into the environment. Dioxins/organochlorines do not readily biodegrade, and they are long-lived. They accumulate in our air, water and soil, and enter the food chain and our bodies.

Organochlorine molecules are shaped like hormones and they can mimic the behavior of our hormones, causing endocrine disruption. Recent studies have shown a direct link between dioxin exposure and human cancer, reproductive disorders among adults, deformities and developmental problems in children and immune system breakdowns.

Other studies have found that chlorine is an endocrine toxicant (reduced fertility, dramatic reductions in human sperm counts), gastrointestinal/liver toxicant, kidney toxicant, immune system toxicant and neurotoxin. Cancers include breast, prostate and testicular.

Hydrogen Chloride/Hydrochloric Acid

This strong, fuming, colorless/slightly yellow with a suffocating odor is a highly corrosive mineral acid. It is used as a metal cleaner, scale remover and found in toilet bowl cleaners and other general cleaning products. Toxic by ingestion and inhalation, it is a strong irritant to the skin and eyes.

(Birnbaum, Linda et al., Developmental Effects of Dioxins and Related Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Toxicology Letters. Environmental Toxicology Division, US EPA, 1995 pp.743-750).

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