Chlorine is an element with atomic weight 35.45 and atomic number 17. It exists as a gas, which is yellowish-green in color, and has a strong pungent smell. It is a toxic gas, which can be pressurized and cooled to be converted into a liquid, so that it can be transported.
Did You Know?The name chlorine has been derived from the Greek word 'chloros', meaning pale green.
It is a heavy gas whose density is two and a half times more than air. This gas is water-soluble, and is mostly found in ocean waters, dried-up lake beds, and underground salt deposits. All living things need chlorine, but if more than the required quantity, it can be very harmful. Being a powerful oxidant, it has a strong bleaching effect.
Uses and Advantages of Chlorine
As stated previously, chlorine is a powerful oxidant and a strong bleaching agent, making it useful for industrial purposes, especially in the manufacturing of paper and cloth. Chlorine is also used to disinfect and purify both the drinking water as well as the water in the swimming pools, since it destroys harmful bacteria.
Because of its potential to disinfect, it is also used for the sanitation of waste and sewage that comes out of the industries. The disinfectant at our homes, also contain a small percentage of chlorine if not more.
Chlorine is used for manufacturing pesticides, solvents and rubber. This gas is also used in refrigerants. Being an important and rather abundant chemical, chlorine is also used as an example to show the characteristics of halogens.
How Can Chlorine be Harmful?
Chlorine is a corrosive gas, which reacts with the hydrogen of water in the tissues of living things, and releases nascent oxygen, forming the compound Hydrogen Chloride, which has the potential to cause harm to the tissues.
Not only that, the resultant compound of chlorine also has the potential to enter and destroy the constituents of a living cell. So whenever a plant, an animal or a human being is exposed to chlorine for long durations, there are chances of it causing harm to them.
How are Living Things Exposed to Chlorine?
Both soil and water can have chlorine, which can be passed on to plants, and subsequently to the animals and human beings that consume them. It has the potential to be fatal if the intake is in sufficient quantities.
If chlorine gas is in the air it can be inhaled by life forms. Similarly if it is present in liquids in a dissolved form, plants and animals alike can consume it. It can also enter the foods which may have been cooked in chlorine-rich water. Being heavier and denser than air, it always remains at the lower levels of atmosphere, which is the air that life-forms inhale.
What are the Signs of Chlorine Poisoning?
Chlorine poisoning can be severe, hence, as soon as the following symptoms are seen, the victim should be taken to a doctor immediately:
- Watery eyes
- Queasy feeling
- Tendency to Vomit
- Burning sensation, redness and blisters on the skin.
- Difficulty in Breathing
- Burning sensation in the throat and nose.
- Blurring of Vision
- Coughing and Choking