Have you ever wondered why your local pool or a fresh new can of paint smell so weird? The simple answer is chlorine. Chlorine can be classified as a well known cleaning agent to most people. It cleans our local swimming pools, homes, and even paper. It is one of the most widely known and used elements but also a deadly chemical.
We are exposed to chlorine so often because it is used constantly in our everyday lives. However, chlorine can be very dangerous in some situations. It wasn’t always used in the friendliest way but over history, people have found a safe and respectable way of using it. Chlorine was first founded in 1774 by Carl WIlhelm Scheele, where he obtained it by mixing mineral pyrolusite and hydrochloric acid. Yet he also believed that there was oxygen in chlorine but was proven incorrectly by Sir Humphry Davy in 1810 who proposed that chlorine was an element itself. Chlorine originates from the word “chloro” which means greenish yellow,and was given this name due to its greenish yellow color.
Chlorine can be found mainly in the ocean’s water and the earth’s crust. One way that chlorine has been used in the past is during World War I where it was used for chemical warfare and inspired many of the gadgets and items we see in games and movies like gas masks and tear gas. Concentrations of the gas as low as 3.5 parts per million can be detected by smell but 1000 parts per million can be fatal. This new weapon caused around 1.3 million casualties and was a different form of attacking people compared to the traditional methods but was quickly resolved by the invention of gas masks.
The effects of the chlorine gas resulted in blindness, nerve damage, hallucinations and much more that brought a whole new aspect of damage to the battlefield. Even the pools many of us swim in can be lethal. Excess cases of chlorine in swimming pools have led to red eyes, irritated throats, and negative effects toward our internal organs. This is because chlorine in a gas form sanitizes the pool efficiently but too much of it can lead to higher acidity levels which affects our water’s PH level. The effects of Chlorine is mainly used as an antiseptic to kill germs, which is why people use it for pools and cleaning products.
Yet more than that chlorine is mass produced, tens of billions of pounds are produced each year by large cleaning companies. Chlorine is used in a wide variety of plastics, textiles, insecticides pharmaceuticals, cleaning products and even in drinking water. It is also a well known element that is also taught in chemistry classes and many more science courses. Scientifically Chlorine is a part of the group of elements called the halogens. Halogens are a group of nonmetals that are fairly reactive and can be harmful if there is a strong amount. The strong level of reactivity is due to chlorine atoms having one electron short of a full outer shell of 8 electrons.
Chlorine is a pale greenish gas that is 2.5 times denser than the air we breathe, making it suffocating and poisonous. The boiling and melting points for chlorine are 239.11 kelvin and 171.6 kelvin.
One horrible accident happened in a small town called Graniteville, South Carolina which involved a 42 car freight train that collided with a parked train. There were fourteen cars that derailed and three of them were chlorine tank cars. One leaked a greenish yellow gas and nine people ended up dying while 234 people were sent to the hospital. Five people out of all 234 were in critical condition and 38 were hospitalized for more than a day. Authorities had to order 5400 people within a mile to evacuate in worry of this deadly gas. Although great exposure to chlorine will result in extreme situations, the usefulness of chlorine outweighs the dangers of this element. Chlorine has been around for a long period of time, and scientists have found many ways to use this great wonder.
Chlorine is used more than we can imagine, in places like the dry cleaners, paper companies, swimming pools, and much more. The history of chlorine has shown both the negative and positive sides of this element. Yet Americans should not worry because through a proper controlled regulation of this element, were all safe and sound.