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

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor

24.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Nanoimprinted hyperlens array: Paving the way for practical super-resolution imaging

24.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Atomic-level motion may drive bacteria's ability to evade immune system defenses

24.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>