April 7, 2010

MCS and Chlorine in Paper Products - Healthier Choices

As you may know, chlorine is a chemical that most people with MCS react to.
Aside from being in treated water and laundry bleach, chlorine is also used to whiten paper products of all kinds - from writing and art paper to facial tissues aka kleenex, toilet paper, paper towel and feminine care products like tampons and pads.

Although I am now fine with it, when I was much worse than now MCS-wise, I couldn't even touch chlorine-whitened paper products without reacting.  Every paper product I used had to be chlorine-free.  Before I found chlorine-free paper, I was using chlorine-free paper towels to write on!

There are two kinds of 'chlorine-free'.  One is called Total Chlorine Free (TCF) and refers to products that have never come into contact with chlorine.  The second is called Processed Chlorine Free (PCF) and refers to products that may include recycled fibres that originally had contact with chlorine, but in the present product no chlorine was used.
Although some severe MCS people can only use TCF products, I have been okay with PCF products (which is what you will mostly find available).

Chlorine-free products that are whitened use 'oxygen bleach' to whiten - essentially a very strong potency of hydrogen peroxide.

PCF products are becoming more available as the market for 'eco' or 'green' products grows.  You can now get PCF toilet paper and paper towels at many regular stores and a few even have PCF facial tissues.  One often has to read the fine print on products to find the words "whitened without the use of chlorine" or "whitened with hydrogen peroxide/oxygen bleach".

For Writing, Drawing and Printers

Over at my creativity blog, I've written a review of Ecojot, a company that makes PCF, 100% recycled journals, sketchbooks, scrapbooks and more.  I love their products and was amazed and overjoyed to be able to use them right away after purchase!  I chose books that were sandwiched between others so that they would not have gotten scents from the store on them.  The glues and dyes used in them are vegetable based and I have never reacted to them.

I have also been okay with products by the company Pistachio though they have needed some airing out before use.  They have lined, 3-ring binder type paper that I use as well as spiral-bound notebooks.  Their dyes are also vegetable based.

Cascades makes PCF paper that works very well in printers and copiers and is super affordable at under $10 for 500 sheets (I use it as writing paper too).  They also carry things like toilet paper, paper towel and facial tissue.

For Women
If you are a woman and choose only one product that is chlorine free, I urge you to choose chlorine free feminine products, especially tampons.
The brand Natracare carries feminine products that are not only TCF but also made from certified organic cotton - another very important choice for those with MCS considering that cotton is one of the most heavily pesticided crops in the world.
I have had no reactions to their pads or tampons.

DIs there a chlorine-free product you like?
If so, please share in the comments area!  I love learning about new resources.
Thanks :-)


  1. Hi Libby,

    I love your drop by's to my blog! By the way, I've changed the name and url for my blog from www.healingei.wordpress.com TO

    My way to focus on the positive! Hope you will drop by the new blog soon. :-)

    Thanks for this informative article about chlorine in paper. Paper has been a problem for me at times too.

    Sending you a hug.

  2. hi Sandra,

    hugs back to you! I love hugs :-)
    Thanks for letting me know about the new blog name and location - good for you for keeping that positive focus! I love the new name and I've already switched my RSS subscription.

  3. Liberty,

    This was a great post with helpful information! I have issues with chlorine (i.e. swimming pool) reactions but I have been fortunate not to ever react to paper (though I am certainly aware of the paper bleaching issues you referenced).

    We use a chlorine alternative in our pool. Several summers ago I had a reaction which I linked to pools. I went a couple of summers with no pool time at all before we got our little pool. It's nothing fancy but I can actually use it... so who cares about the size?

    It's great to know that there are safer alternatives out there for paper.

    Since I have endometriosis, I learned about the Natracare line of products years ago through an endometriosis support group.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog today. It was nice to hear from you!


  4. Liberty,

    Oh... I forgot: ((hugs))

    (I saw your comment above). :)


  5. thanks for those hugs Jeanne!
    I think it's so great for endo people to use organic, chlorine-free products. I'm glad to know they are spoken about on the groups! I've never been on the groups much as my endo is pretty under control. It definitely got better after I got rid of chemicals due to MCS - I wonder how many with endo are chemically sensitive and don't realise it!?

    hugs back!

    p.s. awesome that you have a pool you can use - I agree - who cares how big it is(n't) ☺☺☺

  6. Liberty,

    I'm glad your endometriosis symptoms have improved. It's funny that you touched on endometriosis and MCS as potentially co-existing conditions. I have encountered so very many women who have both over the years that last month I created a group for women who have endometriosis and are chemically sensitive.

    I have not come across any peer-reviewed research regarding connections between endometriosis and multiple chemical sensitivity but the number of women I have encountered with both conditions is very striking.

    On The Canary Report's social network section, the group I set up is called "Endometriosis and MCS". I'm trying to get as many women as possible who have both conditions to join the group so that we can compare notes with one another and try to better understand what connections there might be between the two.

    The group is brand new and we haven't really gotten the conversation rolling very much just yet but I thought that having a place where women who have endometriosis and are chemically sensitive can go might be a good idea.

    I think it's important to look at connections between conditions where there are overlaps in the patient population. I hope you'll join us in the group. I'm sure you could add plenty of interesting information to the conversation. :)


  7. hi Jeanne,

    I've known of many women with MCS who also have endo and other issues that are commonly involving hormones - fibrocystic breasts, PCOS etc.

    That's great that you have started a group!
    Thanks for letting me know about it.
    I've been finding that I am healing much faster when I avoid focusing on any of my long list of conditions and symptoms and instead focus on the things I love in life (mostly arts/crafts, creativity, nature, gardening and reading).
    It's good to know about the group and I will keep the link for future reference!
    Thanks :-)
    I can't help but wonder if endo may also be an MSI a la Dr. Pall.
    He thinks migraines and tinnitus may also be and many with MCS have those as well.


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