• Paper is a thin sheet or roll material, used as a support for drawing, printing, collage, tracing, model making, decoration, and other applications. Paper is available in different weights, textures, colors, coatings and translucency.


  • Most paper is made from wood or other plant pulp. 1 Calcium carbonate, kaolin and talc (clay) may be used as filler and to neutralize acidity in paper so that it lasts longer. 2 Most papers are manufactured with corrosive chemicals (commonly sulfuric acid or sodium hydroxide) in a hot water bath. 1, 3 Other papers are made through a mechanical grinding process. Paper is bleached to achieve light colors.


  • Logging contributes to deforestation if the source forest is not sustainably managed. Mineral additives like kaolin and talc are mined from the earth, contributing to loss of habitat and erosion while mining is underway. 6 Manufacturing paper is energy and water intensive, and mills may knowingly pollute the atmosphere and water supplies with chemical waste.4 During recycling, old fibers and paper filler create sludge, which is landfilled. 4

Human Health

  • Workers in paper factories may be exposed to harsh chemicals used to bleach, dissolve and sterilize pulp, causing irritation of the respiratory system. 4, 5

Social Equity        

  • The United States is one of the largest paper producers in the world and has about 370,000 paper industry jobs. 8 As of 2011, trade agreements and government subsidized paper mills in China have made it difficult for the US paper industry to compete. 9 Residents of rural areas often depend on mills as the main source of employment.
  • Some paper mills continually give off a strong sulfurous odor that while not harmful to health, can lower the quality of life in the surrounding community. 10

Safe Use and Exposure

  • A breathing mask may be desired when cutting paper that produces dust.

Proper disposal

  • Paper can be recycled. Place scraps in the paper recycling. Usable paper can be donated to the givetake.

Safe Alternatives

  • Use paper with recycled content or sustainably sourced paper, which may be marked with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certifications) certifications. Choose products manufactured domestically to support US jobs.


  1. “Pulp”, American Forest and Paper Association,
  2. “Paper”, SurintOmya,
  3. “Sulfite Process”, Wikipedia,
  4. “Environmental Impacts of the Paper Industry”, Clean Water Action Council,
  5. “Sulfur Trioxide & Sulfuric Acid”, ATSDR,
  6. “Prospecting and Mining”, China Clay Producer’s Association,
  7. “Paper Industry – Statistics & Facts”, Statista,
  8. “Paper Manufacturing: NAICS 322”, Bureau of Labour Statistics,
  9. “A Crumpling Paper Industry”, Portland Tribune,
  10. “Pulp and Paper Industry Odors”, Wisconsin Department of Health Services,