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World Population Day

Chlorine Story.. Page 2

Everyday Life

Probably the most familiar everyday use of chlorine is table salt, or sodium chloride. But as one of the major "building blocks" of industrial production, nearly all manufactured products benefit in some way from chlorine.

From the ground up, many homes are constructed and decorated with chlorine-related products like concrete, house paint, fiberglass insulation, and nylon carpeting, as well as vinyl siding, windows, plumbing pipes, and floor tiles.

Chlorine helps make automobiles safer, more efficient, and more comfortable as a component in the manufacture of seat belts, air bags, upholstery, bumpers, floor mats, dashboards and other plastic items, fan and alternator belts, hoses, gaskets, seals, gasoline additives, brake and transmission fluids, anti-freeze, and air conditioning systems.

The modern-day office depends on chlorine for many electronic devices, such as microprocessors, telephones and computer disks, and plastic housings for computers and keyboards.

Even recreational activities depend on chlorine chemistry. Vinyl soccer balls, golf bags, nylon tents and water-proof jackets, wet suits and inflatable rafts, surfboards, tennis rackets, football helmets, and hundreds of toys are just a few of the items that need chlorine for their manufacture.

The most common method of making chlorine is by passing an electric current through a saltwater solution. The solution separates into chlorine and two other useful products: sodium hydroxide -- also known as caustic soda or lye -- and hydrogen.

Every year, approximately 13.6 million metric tons of chlorine are produced in North America.

The greatest volume of North American chlorine, about 40 percent, is used in the production of polyvinyl chloride, PVC, a low-cost, versatile plastic used to construct everything from water pipes and home siding to appliance parts and food storage containers. About 37percent of chlorine produced in North America is used to produce other organic compounds, including basic chemicals needed for manufacturing, and solvents for metalworking, dry cleaning, and electronics. Roughly 4 percent of North American chlorine is used for water treatment. Other inorganic uses of chlorine include producing hydrochloric acid for myriad chemical processes and titanium dioxide, a popular white pigment.

In countless industrial processes, there's simply no cost-effective, safe substitute for chlorinated compounds.

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