Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 08, Number 2
Jun 1995

Dramatic Decline Seen in EPA Dioxin Warnings

An industry group called Alliance for Environmental Technology (AET) reports that dioxin levels in fish near U.S. pulp and paper mills have continued to drop for the last three years. Their report is based on an analysis of data from the EPA and state health and environment departments. Since 1991, ten states have removed dioxin advisories on 13 waterbodies downstream of pulp mills. In North Carolina, dioxin levels in fish have been reduced by nearly 95% in the last five years.

The decline is due to elimination of chlorine gas in bleaching at kraft pulp mills. (Sulphite mills, still common in Europe, use other chemicals to bleach pulp and do not have a dioxin problem.) Chlorine dioxide is being substituted for the gas in what is called ECF (elemental chlorine free) bleaching.

The AET is a group of U.S. and Canadian paper companies and chemical manufacturers that support ECF bleaching technology. For more information about their report, call 519/855-4979 (fax 855-4313).

On a similar note, showing even more optimistic results, is a report in the April 1995 Paper Age, on p. 20, by researchers at Eka Nobel and the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. They found that dioxin was reduced to undetectable levels in bleach plant effluent even when the use of chlorine gas was not totally eliminated. Even at levels as low as 50-60% substitution (chlorine dioxide for chlorine gas), dioxin was undetectable in the effluent. Furthermore, it actually reduces the background, naturally occurring, levels of dioxins in the original pulp by 30%

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