Without chlorine, life as we know it could not
exist. The average adult human has about 1/5
of a pound of chlorine in their body. One way to
think about this is examining table salt. Table
salt is half negatively charged chlorine and half
positively charged sodium. It’s important for a
living thing to balance its charge and one of the
easiest ways to add negative charge is through
chlorine. Also chlorine is important in forming
hydrochloric acid which makes the stomach very
acidic. The transfer of chlorine in and out of
cells plays many important roles in an organism’s
health. An example of this importance is the
disease cystic fibrosis in which a mutation
to a channel that transports chlorine causes it to
not work properly.This small change leads to a
number of serious issues such as difficulty
breathing and poor growth.
Though there are many other examples of how
chlorine is used; it is most notable as part of
bleach which can be used for keeping pools clean
and killing bacteria. Chlorine also plays an
important role in making some plastics such as PVC
(polyvinyl chloride). On a more cosmic note,
the way elements are made in the center of
stars and in supernovas leads to elements we see
today and there would be no clear way for this
process to skip chlorine. Chlorine like many
elements, plays an important role in life as well
as the nonliving natural world. It would really
be impossible to imagine the world without it.
Chlorine is the anion responsible for most
salts, so it is extremely important. If
chlorine weren't there, then the elements that
make salts with chlorine (mainly sodium,
magnesium, potassium, and calcium) would have to
react with something else, probably oxygen.
Combining these metals with oxygen results in
salts with very different properties, many of them
insoluble in water. Without Chlorine, life as
we know it would probably not be possible.
Chlorine is a very common element and important
in nature and also for man-made materials and
technology. Chlorine compounds with sodium to make
salt (NaCl, called 'sodium chloride'), which is
the most common chlorine compound in nature and is
abundant in the salty oceans and the Earth's
crust. Without chlorine, sodium would try to find
an alternative counter-ion when dissolved in
water, for example, iodine or bicarbonate.
When animals consume salt, we use the chloride
ions, which are negatively charged, to maintain
the charge balance in our blood and other fluids.
Without chlorine, our bodies would have had to
evolve a different mechanism for maintaining
I mentioned that chlorine is also important for
technology. Because chlorine is a strong
oxidizing agent, it's very useful in chemical
processes to make synthetic materials like
plastics. Without chlorine, scientists and
engineers would have to find another way to make
these materials and end products.
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