How is your body affected by chlorine?

Health effects of chlorine

Chlorine is a naturally occurring element and a highly reactive gas. The largest consumers of chlorine are companies that manufacture ethylene dichloride and other chlorinated solvents, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), chlorofluorocarbons, and propylene oxides. In paper mills, chlorine is used to bleach the paper. Water supply and disposal companies use chlorine to disinfect the water. It kills microorganisms that can spread disease.
One can be exposed to this element both in the workplace and in nature when chlorine is released into the air, water and soil. When handling chemicals for bleaching laundry or disinfecting the swimming pool, however, you do not come into contact with chlorine itself, as pure chlorine is only used in industrial applications.
Chlorine enters the human body through inhalation of contaminated air or ingestion of contaminated food and / or contaminated drinking water. However, due to its high reactivity, it does not stay there long.
Inhaling small amounts of chlorine over a short period of time has a detrimental effect on the airways. Symptoms range from coughing and chest pain to fluid retention in the lungs. Chlorine irritates the skin, the eyes and the respiratory tract. Small concentrations, as they occur naturally, are, however, unable to produce such phenomena. All effects depend on the chlorine concentration and on the duration and frequency of the intake, as well as on the state of health of the respective person.
The effects of long-term ingestion of small amounts of chlorine are not yet known. Some studies show that factory workers exposed to a chlorine-containing environment develop some kind of protective mechanism against it, but other examples show that this is not always the case.

Environmental effects of chlorine

Chlorine dissolves in water and, under certain conditions, can even migrate from the water into the air. It is mostly emitted directly into the air or surface water, where it reacts with other substances. In water it forms chloride salts with inorganic substances and organic substances chlorinated with organic substances.
Due to its high reactivity, it does not normally find its way into the groundwater and is also not accumulated in the body of animals. However, if it is repeatedly absorbed from the air, it can negatively affect the blood, immune system, heart and respiratory tract of animals. Even low concentrations of chlorine in the water and in the soil cause damage to aquatic and soil organisms.

Chlorine and water

Back to the periodic table of the elements.