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Vinyl Chloride

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Last updated date: 04th Mar 2024
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What is Vinyl Chloride?

Vinyl Chloride, also widely known as chloroethylene, is basically a colorless, flammable and toxic gas that burns easily and falls under the family of organohalogen compounds. It doesn’t happen naturally and should be generated industrially for its commercial uses. Furthermore, this colourless gas is used majorly to produce poly vinyl chloride (PVC) that is further used in various plastic items and even produced as a flaming element in tobacco smoke. Most importantly, Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a kind of thermoplastic polymer that is presently influencing several factors of life through its extensive use and has turned into a universal polymer.

VC is listed among the twenty leading largest petrochemicals (petroleum-extracted chemicals) in global production. In fact, China and the United States are said to be the top manufacturers and among the largest consumers of vinyl chloride. As VC is an organochlorine, the vinyl chloride formula is H2C=CHCI, also widely known as vinyl chloride monomer (VCM) or chloroethene. 

When it comes to resonance structures, they are crafted from the delocalisation of electrons. Vinyl chloride that is $C{{H}_{2}}=CH-Cl$ includes pi electrons because of which VC exhibits absolute resonance. Hence, it is possible for C-CI bonds in VC to be stabilised by resonance. Likewise, in chlorobenzene, because of resonance, the bond in the compound is well-stabilised. Check out the resonating structure of vinyl chloride for a better understanding of the topic. 

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Polyvinyl Chloride Uses

Vinyl is said to be a versatile component; that’s why it’s commonly used in various industries. It can be as stiff as industrial pipes, as thin and flexible as wallcovering, as stretchable as plastic wrap, etc. Furthermore, it can be entirely transparent or matched to any color desired. More than normal levels of vinyl chloride may be present inside new cars as the chemical generally dissipates from new vinyl products. Here are some popular polyvinyl chloride uses that you can see around: 

  • PVC plastic is carefully manoeuvred to create a leather-like material known as rexine. This kind of imitation leather is majorly used to manufacture shoes, jackets, pants, and upholstery. 

  • In most places, PVC plastic is utilized to manufacture pipes, which are further employed in varied industrial and municipal applications. The best part about using this component is that PVC is extremely strong, lightweight, and low-reactive. Thus, it makes them well-fitted for underground-wiring, sanitary, and water-distribution uses.  

  • PVC plastic is widely employed in creating the insulating material on electrical wires. It is strongly resistant to dangerous organic solids, strong acids, and bases. 

  • It is further used to make bottles that are commonly used in a variety of industries. 

  • Various other common uses of PVC consist of vinyl fencing, PVC window frames, medical tubing, shrink wrap, blood bags, railing and decking, carpet backing, vinyl gutters, resilient flooring, meat/deli wrap, traffic cones, flexible packaging, garden hoses, and phonograph records. 

Storage and Transportation

Generally, vinyl chloride is stored in a liquid form. The currently approved upper limit of safety as a health hazard is about 500 ppm. Usually, the storage containers for the product vinyl chloride are high measurement spheres. These spheres have an inner sphere and an outer sphere. Furthermore, multiple inches of empty space separates the inner sphere from the outer sphere. The blank space between these spheres is cleared out with an inert gas like nitrogen. 

Hence, containers employed for maintaining vinyl chloride at atmospheric temperature are always under pressure. Unrestrained vinyl chloride can be stored either under refrigeration or at normal atmospheric temperature devoid of air or sunlight but only for a short time span. When it comes to the addition of HCL to vinyl chloride, it offers 1, 1-dichloroethane because of the Markownikoff rule as it's a direct addition reaction.

Transporting VCM exhibits a similar risk as transporting various other flammable gases like butane (LPG), propane, or natural gas, for which the same safety regulations are applied. In fact, the device utilized for VCM transport is exceptionally well-designed to be impact and corrosion-resistant. 

Exposure and Health Risks

Normally, people are exposed to vinyl chloride by breathing polluted air and drinking polluted water. Suppose a certain water supply is contaminated, vinyl chloride can also pollute indoor air when the water is utilized for cooking, showering, or laundry purposes. Furthermore, vinyl chloride can be discharged from new vinyl products too. 

For instance, raised levels of vinyl chloride are measured inside of new cars with vinyl interiors. Although, most of the vinyl chloride detected in the surroundings is the result of releases from manufacturing facilities or waste disposal. Besides, vinyl chloride is found in the air close to vinyl chloride manufacturing facilities and processing plants, landfills, and dangerous waste sites. The toxic chemical is a known human carcinogen that leads to vinyl chloride cancer and other cancers like liver, brain, and some cancers related to the blood. 

In addition, workers at facilities where vinyl chloride is generated or utilized may be exposed majorly through inhalation. The majority of the general population is exposed to vinyl chloride by inhaling polluted air or tobacco smoke. In the surroundings, the increased levels of vinyl chloride are found in the air close to factories that produce vinyl products.  

Hopefully, this well-written article has successfully covered all the vital information regarding vinyl chloride. 

FAQs on Vinyl Chloride

1 How does vinyl chloride affect humans? 

The main target of vinyl chloride exposure is the CNS. Common signs and symptoms are fatigue, ataxia, dizziness, numbness, intoxication, and tingling of the intensities, coma, visual disturbances, and death. In addition, vinyl chloride can further irritate the eyes, respiratory tract, and mucous membranes. 

2 Is vinyl chloride found in cigarettes? 

The detected levels of vinyl chloride in tobacco smoke are quite low, generally about 5 to 30 nanograms per cigarette (a nanogram is 0.000000001 gram). In fact, people are mostly exposed to vinyl chloride by drinking water from contaminated sources. 

3 Is it possible for PVC to be absorbed through the skin? 

Suppose vinyl chloride gas contacts your skin; small amounts may go through the skin and enter your body. However, vinyl chloride can possibly enter your body through breathing air or drinking water containing it. In fact, it can happen near some facilities or dangerous waste sites, or in factories.