Chlorine bleaching creates a by-product called dioxin which has extremely harmful effects on the environment and has been linked to ill-health. Dioxin is a known carcinogen and will leave detectable residuals in any product that has been bleached with any type of chlorine bleach. Any ingredient that starts with the letters “chloro” suggests the presence of an organochlorine. Organochlorines are contained in many of the familiar products we find in our shops such as solvents, pesticides, plastics, disinfectants, plastic packaging and chlorine-bleached pulp and paper products such as toilet paper, disposable baby diapers, kitchen roll and many feminine hygiene products.
In making organochlorine products, highly toxic by-products, such as dioxins and furans are produced at the same time, accumulating in the environment and the fat cells of animals. Similar major pollution problems also occur when these chlorinated products, such as plastics and solvents, are burned or incinerated as rubbish, as there is then environmental fallout of dioxin that accumulates in the food chain.
There are different types of chlorine bleaches used today in the paper and feminine hygiene industry, each producing dioxin and furan residuals in varying quantities.
Elemental chlorine bleaching (also called chlorine gas), is the chlorine bleaching process that produces and releases into the environment, enormous quantities of carcinogenic toxins, amongst them dioxin and furans. It is a cheap gas to produce and is extensively used in pulping industries.
Elemental chlorine-free bleaching. (also referred to as chlorine-free) This bleaching process is not free of chlorine at all but means that it is not a chlorine gas bleaching process! This does not exclude the use of other types of chlorine in the bleaching process. It is easy to be confused when manufacturers play with language in order to confuse.
Likewise, products made from recycled paper cannot be chlorine free because recycled paper is reprocessed virgin pulp, and it is almost inevitable that the original virgin pulp was processed using chlorine bleaching processes, therefore chlorine residuals will persist in recycled paper products.
The only totally chlorine-free bleaching process is that which uses only Hydrogen peroxide (also referred to as an oxygen bleaching process) and is categorised as Totally Chlorine-Free or TCF. This water and oxygen process is used to destroy any bacteria in the cotton or pulp, resulting in the purification and whitening of the raw material. This is then thoroughly rinsed and monitored until the correct pH is achieved. This is the only bleaching method that Natracare uses.