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Chlorine and its consequences have a far more reaching effect in society that one

may have imagined. Consider a soccer ball, powerade (sport drink), the human body, the

ocean, table salt, and a bleach pen. What do all these items have in common? They are

all composed of some form of chlorine. Chlorine is all-around us and can be found in

various forms as evident by these few examples. G.E. Porter, Nobel laureate in chemistry

said, “So it comes about that salt, sodium chloride, formed from these violently reactive

and poisonous elements, is not only safe to eat, it is essential to life. And the element

chlorine, seeking another electron wherever it can be found, . . . is a destroyer of life and

a useful bacteria” [Ref. 8]. The increased prevalence of chlorine in our society cannot be

reversed at this time. Therefore, it is important to understand how it will continue to

impact our lives. This paper reviews critical aspects of chlorine, chloride and its

compounds and the role it plays in the world.


Chloride Function

The word chlorine comes from the Greek word khloros, which means greenish-

yellow. Chlorine is element 17 on the periodic table and exists as a chloride ion (Cl-) and

as chlorine (Cl2). The element chlorine is in Group VII on the periodic table and

classified as a halogen because it is highly reactive, and therefore, can not exist as a

monatomic molecule. Chloride and chlorine are not produced the same way and do not

have the same effects on the human body. Chloride (Cl-) is found in the form of salts

such as NaCl and KCl. It maintains the electrical balance in the nervous system and is

involved in intracellular and extracellular transport. Chlorine (Cl2), on the other hand,


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