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Chlorine and compound

Chlorine is used in the manufacture of chlorinated organic chemicals, plastics, and
chlorinated lime. Other uses include water purification, shrink proofing wool, in flame-
retardant compounds and batteries, processing of some foods, metal fluxing, as a bleaching
agent, in pulp and paper manufacturing, and detinning and dezincing iron. It is used as a post-
harvest disinfectant for fruits and vegetables, or as a disinfectant in human drinking water
treatment systems, swimming pool water systems, industrial ponds, and sewage systems.
Chlorine may also be used as an algaecide in commercial and industrial water-cooling tower

Substance details
Substance name: Chlorine

CASR number: 7782-50-5

Molecular formula: Cl2

Synonyms: Dichlorine; molecular chlorine; chlorinated water, bertholite, javelle water, and
sodium hypochlorite.

Physical properties
Greenish-yellow diatomic gas, a liquid, or in rhombic crystals, The pungent odour is
suffocating and very irritating by inhalation, Chlorine is soluble in water, alcohols, and
alkalis, Evaporates into the air very quickly.

Melting Point: -100.98C

Boiling Point: -34.6C

Specific Gravity: 1.4085

Vapour Density: 2.5

Formula weight 70.906

Chemical properties
It is a powerful oxidising agent, strongly electronegative, very reactive, and combines readily
with all elements except the rare gases (xenon excluded) and nitrogen. Chlorine also acts as
an electron-acceptor in forming complexes with many donor species. Monatomic chlorine is
unstable under ordinary conditions and can be formed as a result of thermal or optical
dissociation, by an electrical discharge, or as an intermediate during chemical reactions
Health effect
Exposure to low concentrations can cause burning of eyes, nose, and mouth; as the
concentration increases, the effects become more severe: lacrimation (tear formation) and
rhinorrhea (streaming nose); coughing, sneezing, choking, and substernal (chest) pain; nausea
and vomiting; headaches and dizziness; fainting; fatal pulmonary oedema; pneumonia;
conjunctivitis; inflammation of the cornea; pharyngitis; burning chest pain; difficulty
breathing; bleeding in the respiratory system; oxygen deficiency; dermatitis; and skin blisters.

When inhaled in high concentrations, chlorine causes emphysema and damage to the
pulmonary blood vessels. Chronic exposure can cause corrosion of the teeth. Cardiac arrest
may occur secondary to oxygen deficiency.

Inhalation of small amounts of chlorine causes few or no symptoms. In larger amounts, it is a

powerful irritant to the mucous membranes of the eyes, nose, and throat.

Exposures of 1-3 ppm can cause mild mucous membrane irritation; 5-15 ppm, moderate
irritation of upper respiratory tract; 30 ppm, immediate chest pain, vomiting, dyspnoea, and
cough; 40-60 ppm, toxic pneumonitis and pulmonary oedema; 430 ppm, lethal over 30
minutes; and 1,000 ppm, death within a few minutes. Death is possible from asphyxia, shock,
reflex spasm in the larynx, or massive pulmonary oedema.

Populations at special risk from chlorine exposure are individuals with pulmonary disease,
breathing problems, bronchitis, or chronic lung conditions.

Limited information is available on adverse developmental or reproductive effects of chlorine

in humans or animals via inhalation exposure.

Entering the body

Through inhalation, skin or eye contact with the gas, or ingestion, skin or eye contact with
any of the numerous products that contain chlorine.


The dominant exposure for the general public is likely to be from drinking chlorinated
drinking water and using household chemicals (such as bleach and pool chemicals) that may
release chlorine during use. Living near industries or facilities (such as water and wastewater
treatment plants) that produce or use chlorine can also result in exposure.

Health guidelines

Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (NHMRC and ARMCANZ, 1996):

Health: Maximum of 5 mg/L (i.e. 0.005 g/L)

Aesthetic: Maximum of 0.6 mg/L (i.e. 0.0006 g/L)

Worksafe Australia:
Maximum eight hour time weighted average (TWA) exposure is 3 mg/m3

Enviromental effect


Chlorine persists for only minutes in the air, water, or land environments. Both chlorine itself,
and some of its reaction products, are very harmful to the biota. These effects range from
causing death to a range of sub-lethal effects including deformities and reproductive damage.

Entering the environment

Chlorine is carried in the air, where it rapidly reacts to form other compounds (see chemical
properties). In water, it also reacts rapidly leading to a variety of organochlorine compounds,
some of which are hazardous to the biota.

Where it ends up

Chlorine absorbs some wavelengths of ultraviolet and visible sunlight and undergoes rapid
chemical reactions in the atmosphere. The atmospheric half-life and lifetime of chlorine due
to these reactions is estimated to be about 10 minutes and 14 minutes, respectively. The
chlorine atoms produced will then react with organic compounds (mainly alkanes in polluted
urban areas) to form hydrogen chloride and organochlorine compounds.

Environmental guidelines

No national guidelines.

Source of emmission
Industry sources

Releases from industries producing, using or handling chlorine.

Diffuse sources, and industry sources included in diffuse emissions data

Sub-threshold industries or facilities (such as water and wastewater treatment plants) that
produce or use chlorine.

Natural sources

There are no known natural sources of gaseous chlorine. Elemental chlorine makes up
approximately 0.03 percent of the upper earth's crust. The crustal material contains chlorine
mainly in the form of sodium, potassium, and manganese chlorides. Chlorine is a component
of the minerals halite, sylvite, and carnallite and occurs as the chloride ion in seawater.
Transport sources

Chlorine has been identified but not quantified in motor vehicle exhaust.

Consumer products

A wide range of disinfecting and cleaning products. These include household bleaches and
disinfectants (including those for cleaning babies nappies and kitchen and bathroom
surfaces), and swimming pool disinfectants and algaecides

Sources used in preparing this information

Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council

(ANZECC) (1992), Australian Water Quality Guidelines for Fresh and Marine

ChemFinder WebServer Project (1995) (accessed, May, 1999)

Chemical backgrounder (accessed, May, 1999)

Cornell University, Planning Design and Construction, MSDS (accessed,

May, 1999)

Meagher, D (1991), The Macmillan Dictionary of The Australian

Environment, Macmillan Education Australia Pty Ltd.

National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and Agriculture

and Resource Management Council of Australia and New Zealand
(ARMCANZ) (1996), Australian Drinking Water Guidelines.

New Hersey Health Fact Sheet (accessed, May, 1999)

Scorecard - California Air Resources Board (accessed, May, 1999)

Scorecard - industrial rank (on quantity) (accessed, May, 1999)

Richardson, M (1992), Dictionary of Substances and their Effects, Royal

Society of Chemistry, Clays Ltd, England.

Sittig, M (1991), Handbook of Toxic and Hazardous Chemicals and

Carcinogens, 3rd edition, Noyes Publications, USA.

Technical Advisory Panel (1997), Report to the National Environment

Protection Council.

TRIFacts (accessed, May, 1999)

US Department of Health and Human Services (1990), NIOSH Pocket Guide

to Chemical Hazards, Publication No. 90-117.

USEPA Chem Facts (accessed, May, 1999)

USEPA Health Effects (accessed, May, 1999)

WorkSafe Australia (accessed, May, 1999)