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The chlorine chain study

A substance flow analysis, covering about 99 % of the flows of chlorinated substances in the Netherlands.

1993  -   1995
Rene Kleijn
Ministry of Housing, Physical Planning and the Environment (VROM)
Ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ)
Ministry of Trafic and Waterways (V&W)


The debate on chlorine in the Western society between Environmental pressure groups, industry and authorities has become very polarized in the last decade. Environmental pressure groups strive for a phase-out of chlorine and its compounds, since they are convinced that the environmental risks cannot be managed. Industry argues this is not necessary since these risks can be controlled and it is neither feasible, since 60 % of the current production system makes use of chlorinated compounds. In an attempt to base this discussion more on facts, the Dutch Minister of Environment launched a strategic study on chlorine. The first phase of the study was set up as a substance flow analysis, covering about 99 % of the flows of chlorinated substances in the Netherlands. Emissions, waste generation, exports, imports, and economical transactions have been inventoried making use of all sources possible: the Dutch emission registration database, LCA-databases, industrial data etc. Emissions were evaluated making use of the characterization step from the LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) methodology. Emissions with toxicological effects have been additionally evaluated on the basis of actual risk assessments of the National Institute of Public Health and Environmental Protection (RIVM). This resulted in about 6 groups of priority segments of the Dutch chlorine chain, for which additional measures will be prepared. The study showed that the structural danger connected to the chlorine chain as pronounced by the environmental groups are not supported by the present knowledge about emissions and impact assessment. However the study also indicates that important uncertainties exist that require attention, especially concerning the possible emissions of persistent bioaccumulating toxic micropollutants.

More information

Download poster (50kB) presented at the 98 Gordon Conference on Industrial Ecology.