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We Live in a Chlorine Economy

Nov 2016

We live in a chlorine economy. And, no, it’s not all about vinyl.

Yes, vinyl is composed of two simple building blocks – one of which is chlorine (the other is ethylene, from natural gas). But chlorine, which is based on simple salt, is used in a very wide range of products far beyond those made of vinyl.

Chlorine is a key building block in everything from automotive components to firefighters’ clothing. You can find chlorinated compounds in wetsuits (neoprene rubber from chloropropene). It’s used for everything from water treatment to erasers (thio-chloride curing agents used in some rubbers).

These sectors depend on chlorine chemistry.

Health care, transportation, building and construction, defense and law enforcement, and the food and water sectors all rely on chlorine derivatives and chlorinated chemicals. Chlorine is versatile, and it plays well with other chemicals to create some pretty cool stuff. 

In fact, did you know that chlorine chemistry plays a role in components for wind turbines and solar panels? 

It’s also part of the chemistry in aerospace components and high-precision lasers and environmentally friendly coolants.

All these products rely on chlorine chemistry and the multitude of chlorinated chemicals and compounds.

Here’s a partial list of items that rely on chlorine chemistry at some point in the manufacturing process:

  • computers 
  • smartphones
  • cosmetics
  • mirrors 
  • window screens
  • mattress covers
  • blankets
  • nonstick cookware
  • sportswear 
  • golf bags
  • artificial glass
  • guitar strings
  • bulletproof vests
  • tires
  • batteries

The Chlorine Tree, prepared by American Chemistry Council Chlorine Chemistry Division, shows the breath and scope of chlorine’s use and demonstrates just how critical the chemical is to manufacturing – and how it exists at the core of many products. Without it, what would you miss most?