91 Facts About Chlorine: Learn More About The Chemical Used In Pools

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Jan 25, 2024 By Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason
Originally Published on Jan 17, 2022
Chlorine is a toxic gas and is also known to harm the ozone layer.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.8 Min

A commonly used chemical in household products is chlorine, which is most commonly known as the chemical we use in our everyday lives in the form of salt.

Belonging to the halogens subgroup in the periodic table, chlorine has the tendency to form salt during a chemical reaction with metals.

The word 'halogens' literally translates to 'salt-producing', thus, leading to chlorine making sodium chloride (NaCl) or table salt. Other than table salt, chlorine is most commonly known as the chemical used to keep swimming pools clean.

Chlorine is a gas which when at room temperature appears to be of a yellow-green color. This highly reactive element is also a very strong oxidizing agent which means that it can easily accept electrons of other elements. Chlorine is known for having the highest amount of electron affinity and for being the third highest in terms of electronegativity, falling just behind oxygen and fluorine. It is a widely used industry product, used as raw material for the production of various things, as well as a household product. However, as with all chemicals, there are some harmful things this gas can do and precaution must always be taken.

So, why is the element used to purify drinking water? Are there any adverse effects of chlorine exposure? Read these facts to understand the properties of a chloride ion.

Fun Facts About Chlorine

Let’s take a look at some fun facts about chlorine.

  • Chlorine is the third-most gas found in the oceans. It is abundantly available on Earth, mostly concentrated in the oceans.
  • Recognized by scientist Sir Humphry Davy, chlorine was named after its yellow-green color when the gas is in its pure form. The word 'Chlorine' is derived from the Greek word 'chloros' which means 'green-yellow' hue.
  • Chlorine was first confused with oxygen. Before being discovered by Sir Humphrey Davy, many people thought that it was oxygen. It was being used commercially and in industry much before that, but was thought of as being oxygen.
  • Chlorine has been in commercial use for centuries. Evidence of this fact can be found in that it was discovered as a distinct element by Sir Humphrey Davy in 1811, but was in use much before that.

Scientific Facts About Chlorine

Being a chemical element, there are some important scientific facts about chlorine that everyone should be aware of.

  • Chlorine has a strong smell.
  • Chlorine belongs to the halogens family of the periodic table and comes right between fluorine and bromine.
  • It can be dissolved in water, so if there is a danger of chlorine being present in the air, a good idea would be to breathe through a damp cloth.
  • To obtain pure chlorine, saltwater needs to go through a process of electrolysis.
  • The most common form of chlorine poisoning is from chlorine exposure when a person comes in contact with natural chlorine.
  • Natural chlorine is formed of chlorine-35, as well as chlorine-37 which are two separate isotopes of chlorine compounds. chlorine-35 forms the bulk, being 76% of the natural chlorine element, while chlorine-37 forms the rest.

Uses Of Chlorine

Chlorine has several uses directly or indirectly for the creation of products that we use on a daily basis. Major uses of chlorine are made in the following forms.

  • Chlorine is used as a primary source of water purification in industrial processes. As such, it also forms part of the industrial waste cleaning system, as well as the sewage treatment system.
  • Another use of chlorine is in the form of a bleaching agent. This is particularly helpful in the cloth and paper production industry.
  • Another commonly used form of chlorine is household use products like bleach which is used to clean floors and surfaces and similar products. This bleach is basically just chlorine dissolved in water, to create liquid chlorine, making it safe enough to be used by regular people who may not be aware of its toxic nature. Hence, it is not as stronger as chlorine.
  • Apart from these, chlorine is also used to produce chlorides such as sodium chloride which is the salt we put in our food every day and consume. This is also helpful in maintaining a healthy life for humans as it aids with digestion.
  • The first use of chlorine was made in 1908 in the State of New Jersey to purify drinking water. By 1918, this method was adopted in more states.
  • Chlorine compounds are used for keeping swimming pools clean. Chlorine is also used in several food items, medicines, paints, solvents, and even refrigerators.
Chlorine is mainly used as a bleaching or a purification agent.

Harmful Facts About Chlorine

While highly useful for several things we use in our daily lives and rely on for a healthy life, chlorine also has a lot of harmful effects which we will look at here.

  • Chlorine is extremely toxic. It is so fatal that it can cause death even if one is exposed to one part of chlorine per thousand of air. As such, serious safety measures and water tests are required to be done by those who handle or work with chlorine.
  • If not cured properly, chlorine’s effects can have adverse effects on the human body. Chlorine can cause skin irritation, affect the respiratory system and even irritate the eyes.
  • It is because of this that a lot of private pools that claim to have chlorinated water to maintain purification processes, actually use substitutes like sodium hypochlorite or lithium hypochlorite so as to prevent skin or eye irritations.
  • Because it is heavier than air and toxic in nature, chlorine compounds have been used in some chemical weapons as well. In this form, it was put to use by the German troops during the First World War.
  • Chlorine gas is also known to be harmful to the ozone layer that protects the earth. Present as an abundant element on Earth, chlorine gas is known for having severe ozone-depleting compounds which are also clear from the full form of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) which are the reason for depletion of the ozone layer, and thus also the leading cause of climate change.
  • Due to this reason, while their use in refrigerators still continues, the harmful effects have been dramatically brought under control so as to keep the CFC damage to the ozone layer under check.
  • The reason why chlorine is toxic is that it can oxidize when exposed to moisture. This causes chlorine to corrode. When a person is exposed, chlorine poisoning can happen which leads to chlorine corroding inside the person’s body, thus, causing cell damage and even damage to tissue which in turn can prove to be fatal.
  • There is no known cure for chlorine poisoning. However, to combat it, it is advised for industries and plants to have chlorine aid kits handy. In case of eye and skin exposure to chlorine, it is advised to treat it with water. Stay in clean water, or keep splashing your eyes with water until it feels better. In case of a chlorine burn, it is recommended to treat it like a thermal burn.

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Written by Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason

Bachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

Adekunle Olanrewaju Jason picture

Adekunle Olanrewaju JasonBachelor of Science specializing in Mass Communication.

With over 3+ years of professional experience, Olanrewaju is a certified SEO Specialist and Content Writer. He holds a BSc in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos. Throughout his dynamic career, Olanrewaju has successfully taken on various roles with startups and established organizations. He has served as a Technical Writer, Blogger, SEO Specialist, Social Media Manager, and Digital Marketing Manager. Known for his hardworking nature and insightful approach, Olanrewaju is dedicated to continuous learning and improvement.
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