- Short–term and long-term chronic health effects of chlorine exposure in the human body
- Sources of exposure to chlorine
- Differences between exposure from chlorinated drinking water and chlorinated swimming pools
- Counter Argument on whether Chlorine alone is hazardous or a mixture of chemicals and Chlorine
- Reference List
Chlorine is element number 17 and is found in group 17 and period 3 of the periodic table. It is a greenish-yellow pungent, poisonous gas, and is very reactive.
It has two isotopes, one with a mass number of 35 and an abundance of 75.75% and the other one with a mass number of 37 and an abundance of 24.23%, giving it an atomic weight of 35.4527 g/mol. Chlorine is found in a combined state in common salt(NaCl).
Chlorine is used in the purification of water, bleaching of papers, as a disinfectant, in paints, medicine, solvent, the killing of bacteria and microbes from drinking water, and in mustard gas, among others (Chlorine, 2007, p. 6-10). Chlorine exposure in the body causes short term and long term chronic health effects. These effects are discussed in this paper.
I will support my thesis with compelling arguments by supplying information and examples with proof and evidence on the short term and long term chronic health effects that result when a body is exposed to chlorine.
Additionally, I will define the difference between exposures from chlorinated drinking water and chlorinated swimming pools. Moreover, I Will also provide counter-arguments to show whether chlorine alone is hazardous or a mixture of it and other chemicals.
Short–term and long-term chronic health effects of chlorine exposure in the human body
Exposure of the body to chlorine causes irritation of the nose, eyes, throat, and respiratory tract. This leads to tickling of the nose and coughing, eyes becoming red and watery, and dryness of the throat. It may also hinder the development of the fetus and thus make pregnant women deliver premature children (Nieuwenhuijsen, 2004, p.18).
According to WebMD (2004,para.7), exposure to chlorine causes breathing difficulties, headache, chest pain, dyspnea, vomiting, and when it comes into contact with the skin, it causes frostbite and may burn and irritate the skin.
Additionally, it has also been found to cause airflow obstruction, asthma, hay fever, and lung dysfunction of reactive airways (Rushall, 2010, para.6). Cancer of the bladder, heart disease, anemia, and High Blood Pressure may also result from exposure to chlorine (Newsletter, 2008). However, some of these health effects are caused by exposure to a mixture of chlorine and other chemicals, as will be discussed later.
Sources of exposure to chlorine
People may be exposed to chlorine either through accidental spill or release, inhalation, eye or skin contact, or ingestion of chlorine that is either dissolved in water or food (Thomson, 2002, para.7).
Differences between exposure from chlorinated drinking water and chlorinated swimming pools
Chlorine is added to drinking water so as to kill most of the microorganisms, such as bacteria and viruses that may be present in water. People become exposed to chlorine when they drink such water that have a high percentage of chlorine and may get some health problems discussed above.
On the other hand, chlorine is added to swimming pools so as to kill harmful microorganisms that may be present in the pool. It has been found that exposure to chlorinated swimming pools can cause asthma whose symptoms are bluish color, nausea, difficulty breathing, high blood pressure, and lung collapse, among others (New York Times Company,2010).
Exposure may also cause hay fever to those people who swim frequently on these pools. However, chlorine alone is not a problem in these exposures.
Counter Argument on whether Chlorine alone is hazardous or a mixture of chemicals and Chlorine
Some of the short- terms long- term health effects are caused by exposure to chlorine alone while others are caused by exposure to a mixture of other chemicals and Chlorine.
For instance, irritation of the eye, nose, and throat may be caused by exposure to chlorine alone, while asthma and hay fever, which is as a result of exposure to the chlorinated swimming pool is caused by exposure to a mixture of other chemicals and chlorine (Goebell, 2004, p.425).
For example, Chlorine combines with other substance present in water forming harmful carcinogenic chemicals such as trihalomethanes chlorinated acetic acid.
Chlorine is one of the elements of the periodic table and has many uses, such as acting as disinfectant and bleaching agents, among others.
However, exposure to it through inhalation, chlorinated swimming pools, chlorinated drinking water may lead to short term and long term health effects. But some of the health effects are not caused by exposure to chlorine alone but to a mixture of chlorine and other chemicals.
Chlorine. (2007). In Saunders comprehensive veterinary Dictionary.
Goebell, PJ. (2004).Environmental Exposure, chlorinated drinking water and Bladder cancer. World journal of urology, 21(6).
Newsletter. (2008). Chlorine is very dangerous for your health. 2010.
New York Times Company. (2010). About.com, Chlorinated swimming pools can Cause Asthma in swimmers.
Nieuwenhuijsen, M. (2004).Scientist qualifies swimming pool chlorine risk to Pregnant women’s health. Science journal.
Rushall, B. (2010).Chlorine Toxicity: A matter that should be of Concern to all swimmers, coaches, and parents. Swimming Science Journal.
Thomson. (2002).Chlorine in: Sifton DW(Ed), Physicians’ Desks Reference Guide To Biological and Chemical Warfare Responses, (1st Ed.).
WebMD. (2004).Chlorine in pools may cause Breathing Troubles.