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Re: Metals in Printing Ink

As a person who lives in Northeast Wisconsin, where a major percentage
of the U.S. wastepaper recycling occurs, I'm very concerned about this
issue.  Seven companies are facing close to $1 billion in cleanup and
compensation costs on the Fox River and Green Bay due to the past use
of PCBs on carbonless copy paper, and I worry about history repeating
itself.  (For more information, please visit our website: 
http://www.foxriverwatch.com )

While the consumer safety of using the paper inks, pigments, dyes and
coatings is an important issue, our community faces the more longterm
consequences when wastepapers are repulped to make new paper.   We are
stuck with the waste sludges, air emissions, and wastewater discharges
contaminated with paper chemical additives, plus the chemicals used to
de-ink the paper.

The fact is that the federal and state regulators know very little
about the individual and combined health effects of many of the
chemicals used on paper and in the paper recycling process.  They have
no funds to investigate new chemicals and they wait until an obvious
problem develops before launching an investigation, and eventual
cleanup.  Some may dismiss trace quantities of toxic substances as of
minor concern, but the cumulative, long- term buildup over time should
still be a concern, as the chemicals are deposited year after year in
the sediments of our river and bay, or are landspread as sludges on
our croplands.

Many of the heavy metals have been replaced, but with what?  Have
long- term ecosystem studies been done proving the safety of the

I'm not reassured by industry claims that the problems are all in the
past.  Especially when dangerous chemicals are still being used for
"specialty" purposes.  What is so special or essential that toxic
chemicals must be used and dumped on our community?   In addition, 
it's not enough to just keep the chemicals below the legal definition
of "toxic" or "hazardous" when bioaccumulation in the foodchain can
rapidly increase low concentrations to toxic levels in wildlife and

This entire issue needs much more attention.  

Rebecca Katers

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