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Chlorine Bleach: An Asset During the Monkeypox Outbreak

Last month the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the current monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. As of 5 August 2022, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) noted 28,220 cases of monkeypox have been reported worldwide in the current outbreak. While our knowledge of this outbreak continues to develop, scientists tell us that monkeypox is not as easily spread as COVID-19. According to WHO, the “monkeypox virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding.” Unlike its deadlier relative, smallpox, monkeypox commonly presents as a mild disease, although it too has the potential to cause severe illness. Symptoms can include fever, swollen lymph nodes, and a painful or itchy rash with what appear to be pimples or blisters.

The monkeypox virus can survive in linens, clothing and on environmental surfaces, according to CDC. Fabrics should be contained until laundered, and if possible, people with monkeypox should handle and launder their own soiled laundry. Laundering can be done in a standard washing machine with detergent; laundry sanitizers are not necessary, according to CDC. In contrast, the CDC recommends disinfecting all areas where a person with monkeypox has spent time, including all items potentially contaminated by that person, such as “tables, countertops, door handles, toilet flush handles, light switches, and floors.” Among other disinfectants, the virus can be substantially inactivated on contaminated surfaces by a chlorine bleach solution prepared by adding 100 milliliters of approximately 6% (by weight) liquid bleach to 1 liter of water. The solution should remain on the surface for one full minute.[1] As with all disinfection procedures, environmental surfaces should be cleaned with detergent and water before they are disinfected.

In early 2020, we described how a diluted bleach solution could be used to destroy SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces. As the world community now contends with monkeypox, it is good to know that common household bleach can be used to help reduce the spread of yet another virus of global concern.

[1] These directions produce a bleach solution of 0.63 weight percent, which falls within the range of the data provided by Kampf (2022; see abstract).

A Role for Chlorine Bleach in Battling Hepatitis A

The World Health Organization (WHO) designates each July 28 “World Hepatitis Day.” The purpose of this observance is to raise awareness of the various forms of hepatitis, a disease that affects the human liver. Globally, a person dies from a hepatitis-related illness every 30 seconds, according to the WHO. The 2022 theme of World Hepatitis Day is “I Can’t Wait,” highlighting the importance of testing and treatment for this disease. The theme is also meant to amplify “the voices of people affected by viral hepatitis calling for immediate action and the end of stigma and discrimination.”

This year the World Chlorine Council is marking World Hepatitis Day by promoting a free, downloadable poster (in metric and Imperial or U.S. customary units) to help stem the spread of one common form of hepatitis, hepatitis A. People become exposed to the virus via the fecal-to-oral route, including by ingesting contaminated food or water. The virus can spread rapidly, especially under crowded and unsanitary living conditions. The poster provides simple, “pictogram” directions for mixing an appropriate amount of chlorine bleach and water to make a solution that can be applied to contaminated surfaces, such as toilets and countertops, to destroy the virus. Along with available vaccines and good sanitary practices, such as frequent handwashing, surface disinfection with chlorine bleach is an effective means of combating the spread of hepatitis A.

Chlorine Chemistry:  Helping to Sustain the Health of the Oceans

The world community will celebrate the vast bodies of Earth’s salt water on World Oceans Day (June 8). Oceans cover more than 70% of our “Blue Planet,” and in the words of the United Nations, connect, sustain, and support us all.

The theme of this year’s celebration is “Revitalization: Collective Action for the Ocean.” As the theme implies, protecting and revitalizing our oceans is a multi-faceted endeavor incorporating the efforts of diverse sectors. This includes the chlorine chemistry industry.

One of the serious threats to the sustainability of marine ecosystems is the proliferation of non native invasive species through the exchange of ship ballast water. Ballast water, used to improve a ship’s stability, often includes aquatic life forms taken in at one point in the ocean and released at another point where they may disrupt the natural ecosystem. This problem has been addressed through the International Maritime Organization’s Ballast Water Management Convention. As a result of the Convention, by 2024, tens of thousands of ships worldwide will be required to have an approved ballast water management plan.

Ballast water management plans include treating ballast water before it is released to avoid the spread of invasive species. Treatment may be one of several physical (e.g., heat or filtration) or chemical (e.g., chlorine- or ozone-based disinfection) methods. The treatment option chosen for each ship is based on that ship’s characteristics, including the amount of space available for the necessary equipment. In the case of chlorination treatment, the subsequent dechlorination of the treated water helps prevent unwanted chemical byproducts. Protecting marine ecosystems through ballast water treatment is a giant step forward in boosting the health of the oceans. This World Oceans Day, the chlorine industry is proud to have a role in this critical sustainability effort.

Groundwater: Out of Sight, Out of Mind?

This World Water Day (March 22) our attention is directed to a magnificent, but invisible, resource below our feet:  groundwater. Drawn by the force of gravity, rainwater and snowmelt accumulate over the years in pores and fractures in Earth’s subsurface rocks and sediments to form extensive underground aquifers of groundwater. Billions of people around the world rely on wells to tap these aquifers for their drinking, cooking, bathing, agricultural and industrial needs. This year’s World Water Day theme, “Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible,” shines a spotlight on this “invisible” resource.

Protecting groundwater for sustainable use is a matter of preventing pollution in the watershed and avoiding withdrawing water from aquifers more quickly than it can be replenished by nature. Is groundwater pristine? Not always. Pathogens may infiltrate groundwater through leaking wastewater pipes, septic systems, or even livestock waste in agricultural areas. That is why groundwater is frequently treated with chlorine-based disinfectants before use. These disinfectants safely destroy waterborne microorganisms that can spread disease, saving countless lives globally.

Groundwater may be out of sight, but thanks to this year’s World Water Day focus, people around the world will be encouraged to learn about and be mindful of this critical resource.

Euro Chlor 2022 Eco-Profile Study Now Published

Click here to download the 2022 Euro Chlor Eco-profile report, which sets out the environmental Impacts along the production chain from “cradle to gate”. Since the last report was issued in 2013, we are proud to announce that:

In 2013, Euro Chlor published its first Eco-profile report with data from with 2011. Specialized external consultant ifeu, prepared this 2022 Eco-profile of the main chlor-alkali products (chlorine, caustic soda, hydrogen, and hypochlorite). The work has been critically reviewed by an expert office (DEKRA) and approved according to the PlasticsEurope Eco-profiles programme and methodology – V3.0 (2019). The results of this “cradle to gate” study integrates the production of salt/ brine and electricity, as well as of the utilities and other materials used in the process. More information can be found at https://www.eurochlor.org/topics/sustainability/ecoprofile or by contacting eurochlor@cefic.be.

Avoiding incidents involving (chlorine) bleach

Bleach (also known as chlorine bleach, Javelle Water or sodium hypochlorite) is vital in keeping our homes and communities clean. It also helps to disinfect and has a role in protecting us against the neagative health effects of many common bacteria and viruses.

However, it must be used responsibly and always under the direction provided on the label of the bottle it comes in.

Further, due to its chemistry, it is most safely mixed only with water and should never be mixed with other products such as ammonia, acids, alcohols, peroxide and some fuels and oils. Accidental mixing of these products can release gases which, if you breathe these gases in, may mean that you will need medical attention.

This is shown in the latest poster from the World Chlorine Council (WCC). More detailed information can also be found in an accompanying leaflet available on the resources section of the WCC website.

WCC online Safety Seminar 2021

On 9 and 10 November, the World Chlorine Council (WCC) held its online Safety seminar with around 80 participants joining from all global regions. The event included presentations from regional associations and also from company members from around the world. Planning has already begun for the 2022 WCC Safety Seminar, which will hopefully be a face-to-face meeting.

More information on this event will be available from WCC soon.

Valuing the Not-so-Humble Toilet

How much do you value toilets? Like freely flowing clean drinking water, most people in the developed world enjoy ready access to the convenience and safety of reliable household toilets. But an estimated 3.6 billion people — nearly half the world’s population — are not so fortunate. This World Toilet Day 2021 (19 November), the United Nations is raising awareness of the value of the toilet. Toilets are essential to achieving U.N. Sustainable Development Goal #6, which includes extending safely managed sanitation services worldwide by 2030. And good sanitation services include the use of good chemistry.

A reliable toilet may be (i) one that is connected through a series of pipes to a treatment facility, (ii) one that is on a “septic system” in which waste is stored on site to be periodically emptied and treated elsewhere, or (iii) one that either treats or disposes of wastes onsite. Anything less can be a threat to human and environmental health. Open defecation, practiced by almost half a billion people around the world, is a particular health and safety risk, especially for girls and women.

Chlorine chemistry helps provide dependable sanitation services throughout the world in two important ways. Chlorine-based disinfectants are used to destroy disease-causing microorganisms in human waste. This disinfection technology is “scalable” and can be used to treat waste where it is generated or more centrally at wastewater facilities. Additionally, chlorine chemistry is used to manufacture lightweight, durable PVC piping for sanitation infrastructure. These pipes safely convey contaminated wastes away from communities, helping to ensure public and environmental health.

How much do you value toilets? The not-so-humble toilet contributes to public health, safety and human dignity—no small contribution to the world community.

Staying Healthy by Knowing Your Viruses

As the global community struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, expert advice on battling the virus is becoming more and more deeply entrenched in our collective psyche. This includes guidance based on ongoing scientific research. For example, we now know that the culprit virus, SARS-CoV-2, is chiefly transmitted through the air, highlighting the importance of indoor ventilation. The likelihood of spreading COVID-19 from contact with contaminated surfaces has been downplayed, reducing the emphasis on disinfecting surfaces. Significantly, vaccination, social distancing, handwashing, hand sanitiser, and mask use continue to play an important role in our fight against the virus. But with societal contact expanding, it is important to remember that the SARS-CoV-2 virus is not the only viral enemy in our midst.

Consider the highly contagious norovirus, the “winter vomiting bug,” for which no vaccine currently exists. Like COVID-19, norovirus is spread through close contact with infected individuals. Unlike COVID-19, contact with contaminated surfaces is a significant route of transmission of norovirus. Disinfectants such as dilute chlorine bleach solutions are highly effective in destroying norovirus on surfaces. Further, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that alcohol-based hand sanitiser is not an effective substitute for handwashing to help prevent norovirus. And although mask use can be effective in helping to prevent the spread of COVID-19, wearing a mask is less useful in the fight against gastrointestinal infections such as norovirus.

In short, neither norovirus nor many of the other pathogens to which we are exposed necessarily “play by the rules” of SARS-CoV-2. It pays to conduct a brief “background check” on common viruses, especially those involved in ongoing outbreaks, to identify the best ways to limit your exposure and protect your loved ones. Widely promoted strategies for avoiding COVID-19 have undoubtedly prevented a great deal of that disease around the world. That said, as we resume normal activities, let’s recognise that each virus we confront may present unique challenges.

The World Chlorine Council has collected informative posters on how to disinfect to prevent norovirus infections as well as how to clean up in case of ‘accidents’ (metric units) using diluted chlorine bleach. These norovirus prevention and clean-up posters are also available in imperial units.

New WCC Manufacturing Process publication

Only salt, water and electricity are needed to make chlorine, sodium hydroxide and hydrogen for all their important uses.

There are several technologies that can be used to split the raw materials up as detailed in this new information leaflet from the World Chlorine Council (WCC).

Learn more about this important chemistry and the recent changes in the production of chlorine that make it even more sustainable.

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