While you might not realize it, the chemical chlorine and its compounds are part of almost everyone's daily life. The water you drink, the food you eat, the medicine you take, the apparels you clean, the swimming pool you swim in, the car you drive, and thousands of other products are sanitised or manufactured with chlorine.
Chlorine is used in many industrial processes, including industries where plastics, vinyl, and nylon are made as well as pharmaceuticals and the food/beverage industry, too. The electronics industry depends on chlorine in the production of microprocessors and computers. Chlorine is used in the manufacture of gasoline additives, brake fluid, and antifreeze, as well as popular metals such as titanium, magnesium, and aluminium.
How can something so common and useful also be so dangerous and potentially deadly when used improperly? Chlorine gas has an intoxicating effect and appears green-yellow at room temperature. It is also water-soluble. At 0.3 to 0.5 parts per million (ppm), you can start to detect its smell, and trouble soon follows in higher concentrations.
Chlorine gas may have a burning effect on the eyes, nose, and throat which may cause bronchial inflammation, respiratory tract damage, and death. Chlorine is denser than air, which implies that it remains near the ground and exposure victims need to be moved away from the contaminated environment. In World War I, chlorine gas also was used as a weapon which caused mass destruction on U.S. soldiers.
Clean Water Treatment
Chlorine is used as a cleaning agent to treat drinking water to destroy bacteria and other harmful micro-organisms. It also restricts the growth of algae or slime and helps improve the taste and smell of fresh water. Chlorinating basins and well sites have small infrastructure enclosing chlorine storage tanks with mixing systems. Fans are provided for a ventilation system, with gas detectors installed for monitoring and alarm purposes in case of a system leak. Handy gas detectors often are carried into these confined space areas.
For neutralization of effluent, a complete chlorination system is used at waste treatment facilities. Toxic gas detectors are used to detect chlorine gas at this location - the chlorine tanks, the chlorine dosing pump, the chlorine mixer, and the sampling area. In open settling pond areas, portable gas detectors are carried to warn workers of excessively high concentrations of gas.
In the workplace, both handy gas detectors and fixed gas detection systems are installed to help protect workers from chlorine. Depending on the type of workplace hazard, one or both types of gas detectors may be used. From the above description, it is clear the use of chlorine is prevalent in so many industries and it is helpful if we have a broader understanding of its applications in various industries before developing a chlorine gas safety program and determining the requirements for portable and/or fixed gas detectors in any plant.
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