Oil well brine pits are one source of chlorides in water.

Why Chlorides Are Important

Chloride is a salt compound resulting from the combination of the gas chlorine and a metal. Some common chlorides include sodium chloride (NaCl) and magnesium chloride (MgCl2). Chlorine alone as Cl2 is highly toxic, and it is often used as a disinfectant. In combination with a metal such as sodium it becomes essential for life. Small amounts of chlorides are required for normal cell functions in plant and animal life.

Environmental Impact:

Chlorides are not usually harmful to people; however, the sodium part of table salt has been linked to heart and kidney disease. Sodium chloride may impart a salty taste at 250 mg/l; however, calcium or magnesium chloride are not usually detected by taste until levels of 1000 mg/l are reached. Public drinking water standards require chloride levels not to exceed 250 mg/l.

Chlorides may get into surface water from several sources including:

Chlorides can corrode metals and affect the taste of food products. Therefore, water that is used in industry or processed for any use has a recommended maximum chloride level. Chlorides can contaminate freshwater streams and lakes. Fish and aquatic communities cannot survive in high levels of chlorides.

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