For water purification.
(Gr. chloros, greenish yellow) Discovered in 1774 by Scheele, who thought it contained oxygen. Chlorine was named in 1810 by Davy, who insisted it was an element.
In nature it is found in the combined state only, chiefly with sodium as common salt (NaCl), carnallite, and sylvite.
It is a member of the halogen (salt-forming) group of elements and is obtained from chlorides by the action of oxidizing agents and more often by electrolysis; it is a greenish-yellow gas, combining directly with nearly all elements. At 10oC one volume of water dissolves 3.10 volumes of chlorine, at 30oC only 1.77 volumes.
Chlorine is widely used in making many everyday products. It is used for producing safe drinking water the world over. Even the smallest water supplies are now usually chlorinated.
It is also extensively used in the production of paper products, dyestuffs, textiles, petroleum products, medicines, antiseptics, insecticides, food, solvents, paints, plastics, and many other consumer products.
Most of the chlorine produced is used in the manufacture of chlorinated compounds for sanitation, pulp bleaching, disinfectants, and textile processing. Further use is in the manufacture of chlorates, chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, and in the extraction of bromine.
Organic chemistry demands much from chlorine, both as an oxidizing agent and in substitution, since it often brings many desired properties in an organic compound when substituted for hydrogen, as in one form of synthetic rubber.
Chlorine is a respiratory irritant. The gas irritates the mucus membranes and the liquid burns the skin. As little as 3.5 ppm can be detected as an odor, and 1000 ppm is likely to be fatal after a few deep breaths. In fact, chlorine was used as a war gas in 1915.
Exposure to chlorine should not exceed 0.5 ppm (8-hour time-weighted average - 40 hour week.)
Sources: CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics and the American Chemical Society.
Last Updated: 12/19/97, CST Information Services Team