Wednesday, November 13, 2019

The Chlorine Debate: How White Do You Want It? Essay -- essays researc

The Chlorine Debate: How White Do You Want It? Chlorine is one of the world's most widely used chemicals, the building element vital to almost every United States industry. We use chlorine and chlorine-based products whenever we drink a glass of water, buy food wrapped in plastic, purchase produce in the supermarket, pour bleach into a washing machine, have a prescription filled, print out a computer document like this one, or even drive a car. (Abelson 94) Chlorine, a member of the halogen (salt-forming) group of metallic elements, was first made by Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele in 1774, who treated hydrochloric acid with manganese dioxide. In 1810, the English chemist Sir Humphrey Davy determined that chlorine was a chemical element and named it from the Greek word meaning greenish-yellow. One hundred and eighty-five years later, chlorine compounds are ubiquitous components in the manufacturing of paper, plastics, insecticides, cleaning fluids, antifreeze, paints, medicines, and petroleum products. The unfortunate and unavoidable by-product of these manufacturing processes is dioxin, one of the most toxic substances on the planet earth. Dioxins are also produced whenever chlorine containing substances, such as PVC, are burned. Life as we know it will change, if a Greenpeace campaign is successful. The powerful environmental group has mounted a well-organized campaign that has as its objective nothing less than a total, worldwide ban on chlorine. With the public health and billions of dollars at stake, the debate over chlorine has become one of the world's most contentious and controversial issues. "Is a chlorine-free future possible?" asked Bonnie Rice, a spokesperson for Greenpeace's Chlorine Free Campaign. "Yes, it can be done without massive disruption of the economy and of society, if it is done in the right matter." (Gossen 94) The chlorine industry and its allies say a total ban on chlorine would be neither wise, possible, nor economically feasible. "We find the chlorine campaign outrageous in its scope and purpose," explained Leo Anziano, the Chairman of the Washington-based Chlorine Chemistry Council, and organization that lobbies on behalf of the chlorine industry. "We believe it's bas... ...ingly undecidable debate, the basis of the debate seems to be the solution. Banning or getting rid of chlorine, organochlorines, or most any other chemical can only cause more problems than they will solve unless a proven and effective alternative is developed to take the place of that chemical. Most everyday things would have to drastically be altered to make suit for a complete chlorine ban, and that would take a great deal of time, effort, and money to do. If a ban on chlorine was implemented, who would be responsible for the cost and maintenance of switching the equipment: the consumer, the producer, Greenpeace and other environmental watch organizations, or the government? The brunt of the cost would most likely fall into the hands of the consumers, which would kill most middle and lower-class families. Chlorine is a building block of most of our everyday conveniences and a major player in most chemical compounds. Until a sturdy and cost-effective alternative is made, most of the everyday consumers will still have to go on using the same chlorine and organochlorine-based products that they have used for years before.

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