How is chlorine used in the paper production process? Is it necessary?
• In order to make paper “brighter,” wood fibers are often bleached with chlorine or chlorine compounds. When these bleaching agents are combined with organic matter such as wood fibers, one byproduct is dioxin, a known human carcinogen. According to the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory report, paper production is a leading industrial source of dioxin. In the paper bleaching process, dioxin finds its way into the environment, contaminating water, soil, and our food supply. Dioxin bioaccumulates in the fat of fish, seabirds, and mammals, and it has been associated with cancers, lymphomas, diabetes, immune system disorders, and birth defects. Health experts warn pregnant women against consuming certain types of fish because of the associated risk of dioxin contamination to a developing fetus. Most paper mills have adopted elemental chlorine free bleaching procedures that produce less dioxin than standard chlorine bleaching. This is primarily due to the 1997 EPA “Cluster Rule” which set limi