Chlorine: A Toxic Solution for the Production of White Paper

Thursday, March 06, 2008 by: Lynn Berry
Tags: chlorine, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) Many commonly used paper products contain by-products of chlorine, the most serious being dioxin, a chemical that has been rated by the FDA as 300,000 times more potent as a carcinogen than DDT.

Dioxin is a name for a family of toxic organochlorines. It is rated as a carcinogen by the WHO (World Health Organization).

Many recycled papers are also still processed and bleached using chlorine chemicals. Papers that are Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF) are bleached with chlorine dioxide causing organochlorides to form which are released into the environment.

Chlorine and chlorine by-products are released into the air and water contaminating the environment. We are exposed to these chemicals through breathing, eating contaminated fish, meat, dairy or by drinking the water.

Dioxin is a hormone disrupter as it mimics oestrogen. In experiments, hormone disruptors make human breast cancer cells multiply. Organochlorines are reactive with human tissue and are associated with cancer. In addition, studies have found long term changes in glucose metabolism and hormonal levels are linked to these toxins. EPA studies have found hormonal imbalance, infertility and birth defects in animals.

While there are regulations that govern the amount of dioxin that can be emitted, dioxin is a persistent bioaccumulative toxin as it accumulates in fat, in plants, soils, water and sediments.

According to the website ( , studies have found that dioxin can leach through to our skin through products such as disposable diapers/nappies, paper towels, toilet and facial tissues.

Beware anyone who drinks coffee using paper coffee filters as 40-70% of dioxin can leach into your coffee. Dioxin in paper milk cartons can leach into milk. Although according to the Department of the Environment and Water Resources (Australian Government), 90% of dioxins enter our system through the food we eat.

The paper industry is one of the largest users of chlorine and water. Paper and pulp mills use a lot of water, for example, around 13 ounces of water is used to produce 1 sheet of copy paper. The average mill in 2001 released 9,306,000,000,000 (trillion) gallons of waste water, see ( .

There are more efficient and cleaner ways to make bleached paper. One of these is using oxygen based bleaching compounds which use less water and produce almost zero pollution.

Recycled papers can be recycled without using chlorine but typically the original processing method is not known.

When buying paper products look for processed chlorine free (PCF) which stands for recycled content paper that has not been rebleached with chlorine compounds and which contain at least 30% post-consumer content. Also look for Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) which is for virgin fibre papers that are not made using chlorine compounds as bleaching agents and do not use old growth forest.

According to Seventh Generation ( , "if every household in the U.S. replaced just one box of 85 sheet virgin fiber facial tissues with 100% recycled ones, we could save:

* 299,000 trees

* 772,000 cubic feet of landfill space, equal to 1,100 full garbage trucks

* 108 million gallons of water, a year's supply for 850 families of four

* and avoid 18,000 pounds of chlorinated pollution!"

Conservatree provides a list of recycled paper at ( .

For more information see ( , Chlorine Free Products Association (CFPA) (

About the author

Lynn Berry is passionate about personal development, natural health care, justice and spirituality. She has a website at

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