Last spring the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a preliminary report that quicklime (calcium oxide) decomposed PCBs in contaminated soils and sludge and made them innocuous. Like all news that is almost too good to be true, it spread rapidly, from EPA to the Wall Street Journal to PIMA Magazine to the Alkaline Paper Advocate for August.
Now the final report is in, with a total retraction. The November 11 Chemical & Engineering News gives some of the details:
The agency's [EPA's] Risk Reduction Engineering Laboratory in Cincinnati spiked soil samples with PCB congeners and treated them with quicklime. Almost all the disappearance of PCB was the result of evaporation and steam stripping at the resulting elevated temperatures. Only stoichiometrically trivial amounts of partially dechlorinated PCBs were detected.... An archived sample of PCB-contaminated sludge, which purportedly was free of PCBs after quicklime treatment, was found to contain levels of PCBs of 200 ppm. EPA concludes this is not an effective method of PCB destruction.
Conservators, librarians and archivists have campaigned long and vigorously for permanent paper in Australia, finally with success. Twenty-seven papers that meet the country's SAA Interim Standard of Permanence are now made domestically. They include three book papers, two offset papers, ten bonds, one check paper, one copy paper (Reflex Archival, promoted on the basis of its permanence), two cartridge papers, and eight boards.
A long-standing obstacle to the use of alkaline office papers (writing pads, index cards, computer paper) is the fact that most of them are sold not under the manufacturer's name but the name of the distributor or the retail merchant for whom they are made. Even if the distributor or merchant advertises a paper's virtues, high pH is never mentioned as a virtue, because the seller wants the freedom to switch to another supplier in case of a shortage or price fluctuation, and the next supplier might not be able to make alkaline paper. in fact, the seller or whoever contracted with the mill to make the paper gave the mill a number of specifications, which might have included pH, but would not usually tell the retail customer what those specs were. The end result is that office papers are essentially anonymous except for the buyer who gives specs and invites bids.
An exception is Riverside Paper Company (PO Box 179, Appleton, WI 54912-0179, 414/749-2200), which has a catalog of its papers, all of which are alkaline. That's the good news. The bad news is twofold: the catalog also includes papers from other (acid) mills and does not distinguish them; and the minimum order is rather large. So you have to ask to speak to Brenda (749-2313), who knows which are Riverside products, and you have to be looking for 25 or more cases (250 or more reams). Or you can go to the local distributor that carries Riverside products, where you may not have such a high minimum order.
The numerous Riverside products in the catalog were identified recently by Brenda. They include the Ecology line (copier, bond/offset, offset, envelopes, legal pads, memo pads, weekly schedule pads, index cards), the Captain line (bond/offset, hi-bulk offset, xerographic, mimeo, duplicator), the Tru-Rite line (ruled paper, theme pads, filler paper, filler tablet, manuscript tablet, drawing paper, quad ruled drawing paper, legal pads, notebooks, but not the newsprint), and the President series (legal pads, quad ruled pads)-
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) committee on accelerated aging for paper met in November and decided to drop one of its four standards for accelerated aging, ISO 5630/2, which specifies moist aging at 9OLC and 25% RH. At that high a temperature, the committee reasoned, there might be reactions going on that would be unrelated to natural aging, in impurities (e.g., resins) and additives, if not in the fiber itself. It reapproved the other moist aging standard, ISO 5630/3, which calls for 80-OC and 65% RH. The aging period has to be twice as long to get comparable results with this standard. The committee loosened up on the limits within which the RH must be controlled. Variation can now be 2% rather than 1%. A note will be added about filtering the air in the oven to eliminate the effect of pollution.
Copiers and scanners have gotten so good that counterfeiters have been passing copies of currency. The Treasury Department and Bureau of Engraving and Printing struck back this summer with the introduction of two new anticopying features that are almost invisible to the naked eye, and too small to be copied accurately. One is a polyester thread on which the letters USA and the denomination (e.g., USA 100) are printed in an alternating up-and-down pattern. You can see it when you hold it up to the light, in the clear area between the border and the Federal Reserve seal, but it cannot be reproduced by reflected light.
The other feature can only be read with a magnifier. It consists of the words "The United States of America" printed repeatedly in letters no taller than 0.007", running around the portrait. Neither feature appears in the $1.00 bill, since it is seldom counterfeited.
(From the October Graphic Arts Monthly)