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Porphyria Educational Services

Vol. 1  No. 35 ~ August 29, 1999
Focus:  Chlorine in Medicine: Pros and Cons of Chlorine for those with Cutaneous Porphyria

Chlorine is the common bond among many of today's medicine. Chlorine can be found in antibiotics, acetminophen, x-ray film, anti-cancer drugs and blood bags or even glucose bags.

Chlorine is  Number 17 on the Periodic Chemistry Table. Chlorine is the substance that makes our tap water safe.  Chlorine is also as every housewife knows, what  keeps our "whites white" .

It is estimated today that  about 85 percent of all pharmaceuticals -- prescription and over-the-counter -- contain or are manufactured using chlorine. Among these drugs which are used frequently by porphyria patients are drugs for seizures, allergies, depression, diabetes, headaches, hypertension, joint inflammation,  and nausea.

It must be pointed out that chlorine  is a vital component in two of the most important cancer drugs. In addition, chlorinated compounds are essential to the development of potent new drug therapies for many illnesses and diseases.  Such illness include hypertension which is found frequently among porphyria patients. Of the nearly 400 new drugs approved for therapeutic use in humans since 1984, more than 60 are chlorinated compounds, and many others use chlorine's unique chemical properties in their production.

Medical equipment used everyday in clinics and hospitals which are frequented all too often by porphyria patients are found with chlorine as a part of them. Chlorine is essential to a wide variety of medical equipment. An estimated one-fourth of all medical devices in hospitals contain chlorine, ranging from some of the most commonly used to some of the most specialized and advanced.

For women porphyric with cutaneous aspects you should be aware that  X-ray and mammography films are made with silver chloride.

Chlorine-based plastics also are widely used in medical devices and equipment. Of the 14 families of plastics made using chlorine, the most common is polyvinyl chloride, a plastic known for being light, easy to bend and shape, and inexpensive. Medical equipment from plastics made through chlorine chemistry includes: IV and blood bags, sterile tubing and packing, used commonly in intervention therapy during porphyria attacks

Chlorine-based vinyl packaging also adds to the safety of medicine. Vinyl is used to make the shrink bands commonly used on over-the-counter products to alert consumers to evidence of tampering. Many pharmaceuticals also are supplied in vinyl packaging -- such as the "blister" packs that help extend the shelf life of tablets and capsules and
make it easier for patients to take the proper dosage.