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Exposure to chlorine can occur via three routes: inhalation, ingestion, and dermal

contact. Inhalation is likely to occur as a result of an occupational exposure. For

example, this can be a problem for workers who oversee operations or handle chemicals

involving the polymerization process of PVC. Ingestion can happen if the drinking water

supply is contaminated from chlorine waste products because it is improperly discarded

there. Chlorinated byproducts of chemical reactions at nearby plants can also penetrate

the soil and get into the water. Dermal contact can happen when handling a polymer

such as PVC during the polymerization process. It is extremely important to take proper

safety precautions when working with chlorine or any of its related compounds. Harmful

effects due to exposure to chlorine or its related compounds depend on the dose and the

routes of exposure. Inhalation of chlorine irritates the respiratory system. At 3.5 ppm,

the odor can be detected, and at 1000 ppm, inhalation can be fatal. The workplace

regulations established by National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH)

set the recommended exposure limit for chlorine to be less than 0.5 ppm, which is much

lower than the amount at which it can be detected [Ref. 10]. Pulmonary edema can result

from this exposure and the lungs may become more susceptible to other diseases such as


Chlorine Compounds

There are many different chlorine compounds. Some have aromatic rings with

chlorine(s) as a side group. Chlorine compounds can also form as a result of byproducts

from chemical reactions. “Adding chlorine to organic matter almost invariably increases

one or more hazardous properties—persistence, toxicity or the tendency to


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