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Using Chlorine-Free Paper
 

Chlorine-Free Paper

 

What’s Wrong with Chlorine?  What is Dioxin?

 

  • Chlorine is the standard bleaching agent when making paper.  When it is used in this process, it produces dioxin, a type of organochlorine. Organochlorines tend to persist in the environment and are very toxic in small quantities.  Dioxin is found in our air, water, and soil.  The biggest caused of this pollution are garbage and medical waste incineration, the pulp and paper industry, and polyvinyl chlorine (PVC) plastic, which is often used to make pipes.  The paper industry released the largest amount of dioxin into our waterways.

 

  • Dioxin travels from the air, water and soil onto plants and into animals.  It bio-accumulates.  As one part of the food chain is eaten by another, the dioxin passes along to the next link in the chain.  As humans, we get 90 percent of the organochlorines in our body from eating food, primarily meat, dairy products, fish, and eggs.  (Tolerance limits are generally set using adult bodies as the norm.)  One study estimated that each day, people in the United States ingest 50 times the amount of dioxin the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe.  Dioxin builds up in the fatty tissues in our bodies.  Women store more because we have more body fat then men.

 

  • The Environmental Protection Agency published a study in 1994 indicating that the average level of dioxin stored in the bodies of people living in the United States has become dangerous.  It can cause health problems such as cancer, reproductive and hormone disruptions, birth defects, impaired child development, diabetes, altered male sexual behavior, and immune system suppression.  Recent studies have begun to link breast cancer with dioxin.  Children are more at risk because of their smaller body size.  Dioxin is transmitted to babies through breast milk.

 

What Do We Look for in Chlorine-Free Paper?

  • Read the labels of paper supplies carefully. The dioxin problem applies to paper we use at home (toilet paper, napkins, feminine hygiene products, paper towels, etc.) and commercially (copying paper, etc.). Look for paper that is unbleached, or not bleached with chlorine. Some companies use hydrogen peroxide for bleaching; this is O.K.
  • Some products may have a label which says "processed chlorine free" (PCF) or "totally chlorine free" (TCF). Either is fine.
  • DO NOT buy elementally chlorine-free paper. This process uses a different form of chlorine (chlorine dioxide), but the bleaching process still produces dioxins and organochlorines. Some companies try to mislead consumers by saying elementally chlorine-free paper means chlorine-free, which is not true.

Sample Explanation of Chlorine-Free

When you select a chlorine-free paper for publishing/printing needs, we recommend that you put a note to this effect on the paper, to help raise awareness of the issue:

There are two different kinds of chlorine-free papers, TCF (uses virgin pulp) and PCF (uses recycled pulp). Below are sample explanations of the terms which you may reproduce, as needed:

  • Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) paper designation refers to paper which does not use pulp produced with chlorine or chlorine-containing compounds or bleaching agents. This paper has been selected out of our concern for the health of people and the planet, in line with Women’s Division and United Methodist Church policies which advocate for the elimination of dioxin, a highly toxic by-product of the chlorine-bleaching process.
  • Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) paper designation refers to recycled paper. All recycled fibers have not been rebleached with chlorine-containing compounds. Any virgin fibers are totally chlorine-free, i.e. they have not been bleached with chlorine. This particular paper is usually made with 80% recycled fibers. It has been selected out of our concern for the health of people and the planet, in line with Women’s Division and United Methodist Church policies which advocate for the elimination of dioxin, a highly toxic by-product of the chlorine-bleaching process.

 

                                  

 

Taken from Green Guidance, How to Plan Environmentally Responsible Events, Women’s Division


Date posted: Jun 01, 2004