Chlorinated paraffins

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Structure of 2,3,4,5,6,8-hexachlorodecane, an example of a short-chained chlorinated paraffin (61% Cl by weight)
Structure of 2,5,6,7,8,11,15-heptachloroheptadecane, an example of a medium-chain chlorinated paraffin (52% Cl by weight)

Chlorinated paraffins (CPs) are complex mixtures of certain organic compounds containing chloride: polychlorinated n-alkanes (see example structure to the right). The chlorination degree of CPs can vary between 30 and 70 wt%. CPs are subdivided according to their carbon chain length into short chain CPs (SCCPs, C10–13), medium chain CPs (MCCPs, C14–17) and long chain CPs (LCCPs, C>17). Depending on chain length and chlorine content, CPs are colorless or yellowish liquids or solids.

CPs were introduced in the 1930s. Currently, over 200 CP formulations are in use for a wide range of industrial applications, such as flame retardants and plasticisers, as additives in metal working fluids, in sealants, paints and coatings and as a solvent for Dichloramine T (germicide).

SCCPs are classified as persistent and their physical properties (octanol-water partition coefficient logKOW 4.4–8, depending on the chlorination degree) imply a high potential for bioaccumulation. Furthermore, CPs are classified as toxic to aquatic organisms, and carcinogenic to rats and mice. SCCPs were categorised in group 2B as possibly carcinogenic to humans from the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). A global ban on SCCPs is being considered under the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

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