Friday 9 December 2016

Guidance: Chlorine: health effects, incident management and toxicology

Chlorine is a commonly used in laboratories and as a disinfectant. The U.K. government has recently updated safety information relating to use of the chemical.

Key points from the review are:

  • chlorine is a reactive gas that is approximately three times as heavy as air and has a characteristic odour similar to bleach
  • chlorine is an important industrial chemical and is used in the disinfection of water supplies and swimming pools
  • the most likely cause of chlorine in the environment is following accidental release from an industrial site or transport vehicle, it does not persist in the environment
  • chlorine is a gas at room temperature and as such exposure is most likely to occur by breathing it or it coming into contact with the eyes
  • breathing small amount of chlorine gas may result in a burning sensation of the eyes and throat; more substantial exposure may cause coughing or breathing difficulties
  • exposure to high levels of chlorine gas may damage the lungs and airways, and may be fatal
  • exposure to liquid or gaseous chlorine may cause irritation and burns to the skin
  • individuals with existing problems of the lungs and airways and heavy smokers may  be more sensitive to the effects of chlorine gas
Further information can be found here.

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle

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