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Reused paper can be polluted

It may recycle an estrogen-mimicking chemical.

12:07pm, May 20, 2003

From Hamburg, Germany, at a meeting of the Society of Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Europe

Recycling isn't always as green as it seems. German engineers have discovered that toxic substances found in some paper products end up in bathroom tissue made by recycling that paper. When that product is flushed, the researchers say, the pollutants might harm fish and other wildlife.

Researchers at Dresden University of Technology in Pirna, Germany, realized that many thermal papers — like those used in cash registers and fax machines — incorporate bisphenol-A (BPA). If ingested, this chemical can mimic the activity of estrogen and related female sex hormones (SN: 1/3/93, p. 12). Figuring that people might throw thermal papers into their recycling bins, the Dresden engineers decided to look for BPA in recycled paper.

Dirk Vogel notes that his team detected sizeable qu

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