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phosphorus chlorine, also known as phosphorus chloride, is a corrosive chemical and can be fatal if inhaled. It reacts violently with water and hydrolyses in moist air releasing hydrogen chloride gas and phosphoric acid. It is an air sensitive reagent that should be stored in Schlenk flasks which are designed to store air and moisture-sensitive reagents.
It is used in organic synthesis to prepare triphenylphosphine for the Wittig reaction and phosphite esters, which are useful as industrial intermediates. It is also used to chlorinate allylic and benzylic CH bonds, although this reaction can be performed more effectively with sulfuryl chloride. It is also used as an alternative to the Horner-Wadsworth reaction for preparing alkenes from primary and secondary alcohols, however thionyl chloride usually gives better yields.
The chlorination of organic contaminants and chemicals in natural water and wastewater is a serious problem worldwide. This is due to the formation of a number of toxic organic chlorides, including several kinds of phosphate ester (OPE), which are used as plasticizers, solvents, and lubricants.
Exposure to PCl5 can cause irritation of the eyes and throat, lacrimation (increased flow of tears), and pulmonary edema. It is a nephrotoxin and can lead to renal failure in long-term exposures. It is also a respiratory sensitizer and can trigger bronchitis in those who are exposed for extended periods of time. Inhalation may also result in lactic dehydrogenase elevation, which is indicative of oxidative damage to the liver.