Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Experts debate benefits, dangers of chlorine in C&EN point-counterpoint

19.10.2004


Get a group of scientists together and mention the word "chlorine" and watch the sparks start to fly. That’s exactly what happened at a forum on a different, but related, topic of sustainability, sponsored by the news magazine Chemical & Engineering News, a publication of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society.



As a result of a "vigorous and provocative debate" about chlorine at that forum, the magazine’s editors asked two leading experts in the field of chlorine chemistry - Terrence Collins, professor of chemistry at Carnegie Mellon University, and C.T. (Kip) Howlett Jr., executive director of the Chlorine Chemistry Council and vice president of the American Chemistry Council - each representing opposing viewpoints, to participate in a special "point-counterpoint" exchange, which appears in the magazine’s Oct. 18 issue.

Collins charges that the dangers of chlorine are not being adequately addressed by industry or academe. He says alternatives to chlorine and chlorine processes must be pursued. Howlett contends that industry is, in fact, succeeding in lessening the impact of chlorine on the environment. He cites numerous positive contributions that chlorine has made to society.


Some highlights of the exchange:

  • Howlett point: "Products and services that result in 45 percent of the U.S. gross domestic product are rooted in chlorine chemistry. In addition to water disinfectants and pharmaceuticals, chlorine is critical to 25 percent of all medical plastics, 70 percent of all disposable medical applications, and 95 percent of crop protection chemicals; it also plays a significant role in the production of soaps and detergents, aluminum, and pulp and paper. The chlor-alkali sector is a solid job producer in the U.S. with a payroll of more than $360 million and more than 37,000 jobs."
  • Collins counterpoint: "The Chlorine Chemistry Council public relations initiatives that gloss over toxicity misinform people and erode public trust in chemistry." ... "By listing together perfectly safe and questionable products without distinction, accompanied by prose that only glorifies chlorine technologies, Howlett hides toxicity information the public has a right to know and that you should rightfully explain."
  • Collins point: "Approximately one-third [of global chlorine production] goes into manufacturing polyvinyl chloride." ... "PVC is extremely hazardous for multiple reasons. Space permits me to consider only the dioxins hazard associated with PVC combustion." ... "There are more than one million accidental fires each year in the U.S. alone. As more PVC accumulates in our civilization, it is hard to believe that children are not being compromised in increasing numbers by dioxins from chance PVC combustion."
  • Howlett counterpoint: "Dr. Collins focuses on accidental fires. If what he and others say about the generation and longevity of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and -furans from PVC combustion in house fires is correct, then these materials should show up in the environmental record. But the environmental record shows that dioxins emissions and body burdens have declined over 90 percent since 1970 while PVC manufacture has tripled - and most of that manufacture goes to building and construction."

Despite the long-standing and passionate controversy over chlorine, Collins and Howlett managed to agree on at least one thing: disinfection of drinking water supplies with chlorine has been a lifesaver for people around the world. According to Collins, "... water disinfection with chlorine probably holds the record for saving human lives ..." Howlett’s response, "I agree."

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization, chartered by the U.S. Congress, with a multidisciplinary membership of more than 159,000 chemists and chemical engineers. It publishes numerous scientific journals and databases, convenes major research conferences and provides educational, science policy and career programs in chemistry. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

C&EN Online (www.cen-online.org) is the daily news source of the American Chemical Society. The Web site has online exclusives and is updated regularly to inform readers about the latest developments in the chemical world.

Michael Bernstein | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.acs.org

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Making fuel out of thick air
08.12.2017 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

nachricht ‘Spying’ on the hidden geometry of complex networks through machine intelligence
08.12.2017 | Technische Universität Dresden

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Towards data storage at the single molecule level

The miniaturization of the current technology of storage media is hindered by fundamental limits of quantum mechanics. A new approach consists in using so-called spin-crossover molecules as the smallest possible storage unit. Similar to normal hard drives, these special molecules can save information via their magnetic state. A research team from Kiel University has now managed to successfully place a new class of spin-crossover molecules onto a surface and to improve the molecule’s storage capacity. The storage density of conventional hard drives could therefore theoretically be increased by more than one hundred fold. The study has been published in the scientific journal Nano Letters.

Over the past few years, the building blocks of storage media have gotten ever smaller. But further miniaturization of the current technology is hindered by...

Im Focus: Successful Mechanical Testing of Nanowires

With innovative experiments, researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrums Geesthacht and the Technical University Hamburg unravel why tiny metallic structures are extremely strong

Light-weight and simultaneously strong – porous metallic nanomaterials promise interesting applications as, for instance, for future aeroplanes with enhanced...

Im Focus: Virtual Reality for Bacteria

An interdisciplinary group of researchers interfaced individual bacteria with a computer to build a hybrid bio-digital circuit - Study published in Nature Communications

Scientists at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria (IST Austria) have managed to control the behavior of individual bacteria by connecting them to a...

Im Focus: A space-time sensor for light-matter interactions

Physicists in the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics (run jointly by LMU Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics) have developed an attosecond electron microscope that allows them to visualize the dispersion of light in time and space, and observe the motions of electrons in atoms.

The most basic of all physical interactions in nature is that between light and matter. This interaction takes place in attosecond times (i.e. billionths of a...

Im Focus: A transistor of graphene nanoribbons

Transistors based on carbon nanostructures: what sounds like a futuristic dream could be reality in just a few years' time. An international research team working with Empa has now succeeded in producing nanotransistors from graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, as reported in the current issue of the trade journal "Nature Communications."

Graphene ribbons that are only a few atoms wide, so-called graphene nanoribbons, have special electrical properties that make them promising candidates for the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

Blockchain is becoming more important in the energy market

05.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Making fuel out of thick air

08.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Rules for superconductivity mirrored in 'excitonic insulator'

08.12.2017 | Information Technology

Smartphone case offers blood glucose monitoring on the go

08.12.2017 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>