Chlorine is a naturally occurring element and a highly reactive gas. Ever since chlorine began to be mass produced and heavily used as a bleaching and cleaning agent in the early 1900s, the growth of its use has been massive. But while it was a benchmark of legal and marketing success, it also became a standard for lawsuits involving exposure to environmental toxins, because of the negative effects on workers and others. The environmental concerns over chlorine use have led to a small decline in the use of chlorinated chemicals.
Chlorine is used in a number of industries, with the largest being the companies that make a number of chlorinated solvents, such as bleach. But chlorine is also a major component in a number of other products including polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resins, which are used to make pipes. The paper industry also uses chlorine to bleach paper, and, of course, water and wastewater treatment plants use a lot of chlorine to eliminate disease-ridden microorganisms from the water.
Exposure to chlorine can occur anywhere if it’s been released to air, water, or land, but chlorine itself is rarely found in the home. Those who use laundry bleach or and swimming pool cleaning chemicals are generally not exposed to chlorine itself. Most chlorine is found only in industrial settings. The chemical usually enters the body through inhalation of contaminated air, although it can be consumed through contaminated food or water in some cases. Due to its reactivity, plants and animals tend to not store chlorine, so it tends to not remain in the body.
Chlorine can be extremely poisonous in large quantities. The health effect of chlorine exposure depends greatly on the level of exposure as well as the health of the person being exposed. Inhaling small amounts of chlorine for short periods of time could cause irritation to the skin or eyes, and it can also have an adverse effect on the respiratory system, resulting in symptoms including coughing, chest pain, and a possible buildup of water in the lungs. Breathing in small amounts of chlorine over much longer periods of time are still being investigated, but some studies have shown that repeated exposure to chlorine may have an adverse effect on the immune system, the blood, and the heart, in addition to the respiratory system.
If you’re feeling sick, and you have been exposed to chlorine gas in concentrations, either large or small as part of your job, get medical help as soon as possible. Then contact the San Antonio personal injury lawyers at Hill Law Firm in San Antonio to discuss your legal options and to protect your rights.