ANSES, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety is ringing the alarm bell. Tests conducted in France on disposable diapers identified several chemicals measuring above the safety threshold – according information recently published by ANSES.

Among the toxic chemicals were dioxins and furans and the agency points out, that bleaching with chlorine dioxide might be the cause for this. The process in question is better known as ECF-bleaching : “Today, the cellulose used in these products is no longer bleached by elemental chlorine. However processes using chlorinated agents such as chlorine dioxide, for example, are used and can be responsible for the formation of dioxins and furans.”

The good news is, that there is better technology available, the so called TCF-bleaching: “To limit chlorinated dioxins and furans, the bleaching phases for materials could be undertaken without any chlorinated agents (such as chlorine dioxide, sodium or calcium hypochlorite, etc.). Techniques are available to achieve this, such as the use of dioxygen and hydrogen peroxide.”

Unfortunately 95% of the global pulp production relies on ECF and only a small portion is bleached completely without components the contain chlorine dioxide. This is why the Environmental Paper Network is calling for the cleanest production technologies available on the market. The French study indicates, that the pulp and paper industry continues to have work to do and to continuously improve the bleaching process.

Read the full report here: https://www.anses.fr/en/system/files/CONSO2017SA0019EN.pdf