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Charles E. Ophardt, Professor of Chemistry, Elmhurst College, Elmhurst, IL 60126, charleso at elmhurst.edu, Copyright 2004

ISSUE 1:

SHOULD THE USE OF CHLORINE FOR THE MANUFACTURE OF CHLORINE CONTAINING COMPOUNDS BE BANNED?

 DEBATE QUESTION: Should the use of chlorine for the manufacture of chlorine containing compounds be banned?

Option # 1: Complete ban on use of all chlorine containing compounds.

Option # 2: Limited ban only on potentially harmful classes of compounds.
For example ban all organochlorine pesticides or ban all chlorine containing plastics.

Option # 3: No ban, or extremely limited ban on compounds proven to cause harm.
For example ban only those chlorine containing compounds which have been proven to harm the environment or toxic to humans and animals i.e. DDT, PCB's

For this issue debate, you may self select the position that you would like to promote.


INTRODUCTION:

Chlorine in the elemental state is is pale green poisonous gas. In various other forms it is present in the ocean water, in common table salt, highway salt to melt ice, in bleach, and as a disinfectant in drinking water. Chloride ions or chlorine as the element is used in the manufacture of a wide variety of industrial compounds including 85 percent of all pharmaceuticals, 96 percent of all agricultural pesticides and herbicides, and a wide range of plastic type materials including PVC pipe. It is also used in the bleaching of wood pulp to make paper.

A group of chemicals called organochlorines-substances that contain chlorine and carbon that is at the heart of the chlorine controversy. They include polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, the now-banned pesticide DDT and others that are tough to destroy and are known or believed to be highly toxic. Over the years, they have been released into the environment through such sources as industrial effluents and smokestack emissions, discharges that in many cases are now reduced or banned. The organochlorine compounds are not readily degraded in the environment and persist many years. In the Great Lakes region, PCBs and other chlorinated compounds have been found in very small amounts. However through a process of biomagnification, the organochlorine compounds concentrate in the fats of fish as they move up the food chain. The result is that the Great Lakes states issue advisories on the size and quantity of lake fish that are safe to eat. And yet scientific evidence that PCBs, for instance, cause human cancer or impair development in infancy and childhood has yet to be proven conclusive. There is a high degree of concern for the health effects of a organochlorine compound called dioxin. Dioxin is produced from a variety of sources involving the combustion or incineration of a wide variety of materials. Much research has tried to establish the health effects of this compound including birth defects, cancer, and endocrine disrupters,

International Joint Commission, a quasi-governmental board that oversees cleanup efforts on the Great Lakes recently reiterated its two-year-old call for phasing out the use of chlorine and chlorine-containing compounds. That followed a call by the Clinton administration for a 30 month study of chlorine's uses and potential health effects that could lead to a plan to "substitute, reduce or prohibit the use of chlorine and chlorinated compounds."

The chemical industry vigorously, even vehemently disagrees with that analysis. About half of all commercial chemistry involves chlorine, worth an estimated $70 billion annually in sales. So phasing out chlorine would be not only costly and uncertain, in the industry's view, but also unnecessary."The science does not justify this wholesale ban or phase-out of chlorine," said Jeffrey Van, spokesman for the Chemical Manufacturers Association, the industry's Washington-based trade group. "Not all environmental risks are alike. Some are larger than others. Some, indeed, are mythical."

In this century, as the number and type of chemicals used by industry have exploded, chlorine has become an increasingly integral part of the business because it is a highly reactive element that readily combines with a wide range of other elements.
"You do not have to put in a lot of energy to make it work," said Joe Garlich, a researcher at Dow Chemical Co., the world's largest producer of chlorine. "You don't have to do a lot of exotic manipulations. The idea of the chemistry industry is to take simple building blocks and use them like an architect to build something that has a use."

 

INTERNET RESOURCES

1. BACKGROUND INFORMATION:


2. Compounds containing chlorine

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) - can search on names of compounds and find facts and uses.

Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach)
Chlorine - the facts, synthesis, and uses
Hydrochloric Acid - facts and uses
Trichloroethylene - facts and uses
Perchloroethylene - facts and uses
Methylene Chloride solvent and methylene chloride - facts and uses

PCB - Polychlorinated Biphenyl
PCB -EPA
PCB - Toxic Alert

PVC - the poison plastic - Greenpeace
PVC - Toys
PVC Case Study - Chemical Hertiage

Dioxin - Closer than you think
What is Dioxin?
Dioxin HomePage

Dioxin May not be that Bad - Page from American Chemistry Council gives a link on special cases of high exposure to Dioxin -

DDT

A Chlorinated Compound in Toothpaste


List of contaiments in Drinking and Ground Water - Look for those that contain chlorine and then view a fact sheet on the specific chemical.

3. PAPER MAKING - WITH AND WITHOUT THE USE OF CHLORINE

4. HEALTH EFFECTS:

5. Sites and Papers which more or less support the YES BAN:


6. Sites and Papers which more or less support the NO BAN:


SHOULD THE USE OF CHLORINE FOR THE MANUFACTURE OF CHLORINE CONTAINING COMPOUNDS BE BANNED?



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