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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.

New Water for Life publication

Many water-borne illnesses can be fatal and even today, many people around the world still become unwell, or unfortunately die, from drinking or bathing in water contaminated by harmful bacteria and viruses. A key tool in combatting these microorganisms is by disinfecting this water with chlorine-based chemistry. A brief history and background of this chemistry is detailed in this new information leaflet from the World Chlorine Council (WCC).

This resource builds on previous WCC publications and adds new information about the role of disinfection in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.

WCC to hold online Safety Seminar 2021

The WCC online Safety Seminar 2021 will be held on 9-10 November 2021 from 12.00-14.00 CET. This seminar will include topics such as the WCC Cardinal rules, hydrogen and nitrogen trichloride safety, small in-situ chlorine production, etc. A detailed programme is available here.

If you are interested in joining, or if you have an interesting topic to be presented, please contact Ton Manders at Euro Chlor.

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