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Petrochemicals are a large group of chemicals which are derived from petroleum and natural gas. They are found in an array of industrial products including plastics, fertilizers, packaging, clothing, digital devices, medical equipment, detergents, tires, and many others. Petrochemicals are obtained by refining and processing fossil fuels or by extracting them from crude oil and natural gas liquids. They serve as the building blocks for many materials that are central to modern economies and everyday life.

Petrochemical manufacturing processes typically involve the breaking down of hydrocarbon molecules in natural gas or petroleum into simpler molecules, often in facilities called crackers. Some of the fundamental petrochemicals include ethylene, propylene, butadiene, benzene, toluene, and xylenes—commonly referred to as the basic petrochemicals. These compounds can be converted into polymers, solvents, detergents, adhesives, synthetic fibers, and other products through various chemical reactions.

Notably, while petrochemicals are essential components in myriad products, their production and use are also associated with environmental concerns ranging from greenhouse gas emissions to plastic waste.

For more information on petrochemicals, you can visit the following pages:

1. American Chemistry Council (ACC) – An industry trade association for American chemical companies, which provides information about the role of chemicals and petrochemicals in the modern economy, as well as their management and regulations:

2. The International Energy Agency (IEA) – An autonomous agency that provides policy advice, data, analyses, and recommendations in the energy sector, including comprehensive reviews of the petrochemical industry and its impacts on global energy demand and the environment:

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