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

1454 Words6 Pages
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
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The chlorine industry has presented many statistics on what it says will be the cast to society of substituting other substances for chlorine, and these figures are staggering. The net cost to consumers would exceed $90 billion a year, about
$1,440 a year for a family of four, according to studies conducted by the
Chlorine Institute. About 1.3 million jobs depend on the chlorine industry, an amount equal to the number of jobs in the state of Oregon. Wages and salaries paid to those employees totaled more than $31 billion in 1990, approximately the same as the total payroll that year for all state and local government employees in Oregon. (WHO 94-95)
With its call for a total ban, Greenpeace has gone beyond common sense and is jeopardizing the health and economic well-being of this country," Anziano charged. Greenpeace is also well-armed with statistics. Their spokesmen argue that, if implemented with careful planning, the transition to a chlorine-free economy could save money, create new jobs, and be "economically and socially just." Greenpeace puts the savings from phasing-out chlorine at $80 to $160 billion annually.
The phase out of chlorine would take place over a 30-year period and would involve substituting what Greenpeace describes as "traditional materials and non-chlorinated plastics." In the pulp and paper industry, for
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