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Chlorine Health and Hazards

Chlorine and Health

In recent years, there have been numerous concerns about chlorine. Although chlorine disinfects drinking water, it also reacts with traces of other material of particles, such as dissolved solids, in the water and forms trace amounts of substances known as disinfection byproducts (DBPs). The most common of these are known as trihalomethanes (THMs). The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified THMs as a probable carcinogen.

Chlorine is said by some to be the original persistent organic pollutant (POP). POPs persist in the environment for decades and research by Columbia University suggests they may remain for centuries.

Many now banned substances (e.g., Agent Orange, DDT, PCBs) and many others like them all have one legal cousin, chlorine. Dr. Joe Thornton a biologist at Oregon University states in his book “Pandora’s Poison” that all of the organochlorines contaminate the environment, wildlife, our food and our bodies. They have just one antidote: “ban them all”. An organochlorine is a class of chemicals formed when chlorine gas produced by the chemical industry comes into contact with organic matter in industrial processes and in agricultural uses.

There are 11,000 organochlorines that are known to exist. They are both persistent and stable in the environment, and they accumulate in the fatty tissues of animals and humans. They have been in existent since 1940 and now blanket the entire planet. Everyone on Earth now eats, drinks, and breathes a constantly changing and poorly characterized soup of organochlorines, said Dr. Joe Thornton.

Organochlorines have been linked to immune system suppression, falling sperm counts and infertility, as well as learning disability in children.