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Is paper poisoning permaculture produce?...and the soil it's grown in?

master steward
Posts: 28349
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)
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I wonder if anyone has ever taken the time to review the glues and other assorted chemicals used in the production of cardboard, including mold and fungus inhibitors? I wouldn't personally use cardboard as a mulch.
Posts: 8510
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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I'm not commenting on paper specifically. It was mentioned earlier that spreading toxic materials over a wide area is somehow better than concentrating and containing it. This produces disastrous results. Ocean dumping is the big one, where dilution wasn't the solution. Power plants concentrate massive amounts of ash and nuclear waste. If it were simply spread thinly around the neighborhood, vast areas would be ruined and uninhabitable.

If anything from old paint to batteries, is determined to be toxic waste, concentrate it and store it responsibly or take it to the appropriate facility.

A ton of asbestos waste, properly bagged and tagged in my city, is about a $300 problem. If that same material were spread over half an acre of soil, the bill would be in the hundreds of thousands.

A similar situation would occur if the contaminant were oil or lead. It's far easier to deal with a concentration.

I once arrived on the scene, moments after about 30 gallons of oil was spilled. We gathered it, soil and all into garbage cans and buckets. A large bonfire was started and the material was incinerated a few shovels at a time. The resultant ash had no oil smell. If I had allowed the oil to sink into the ground and be washed around by rain, the whole yard would have been polluted.
Posts: 600
Location: Michigan
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Recycled paper stock used to make almost all paper products is completely cross-contaminated industrial toxic waste, period.

Number 1 boogy..... dioxin. To the point where germany will not recycle paper products from abroad that are bleached with dioxin containing chemicals.... they dont want it to contaminate their recycle stream.

Home power magazine, i loved it because they sourced dioxin free recycled paper from germany very few places to get it.

Toner is deadly chemical soup.... worry metal vs soy ink? Soy ink may be an improvement, but regardless of ink type toner is gnarly stuff. Simply touching printed paper is verifiably a damage to your organism.

Asbestos from cross contamination over papers many lives and added with other minerals for weighted paper.

Teflon.....C8 or pfas, ptfe, etc.... cheaper than wax and your pizza box and fast food wrapper and baking paper is sprayed with it and or silicon,  complete with a pink breast cancer logo soy ink and toner for the pizza box and coming next business quarter, "because we care"
these contents should strike fear, nearly as much terror as dioxin.

Who knows what is soaked up into paper and concentrated in it being recycled over and over.

I think of this when i am stuck using toilet paper.

And when i see well meaning food preparers using paper towel to leach the nutritious life saving grease off of bacon. Face palm every time.

Those cardboard boxes slide on the floor of trucking trailers, warehouses and shipping containers  that are surely cross-contaminated with everything, possibly including low level nuclear waste.

Also, for cardboard maybe a small gripe, but nearly every time i have unloaded boxes at store warehouses i got glass splinters in my fingers or hands. That always seasons up the root crops tasty like!

One comment on here mentioned thousands of boxes to be used in a garden plot.

Its one thing to re-purpose things, a glass bottle embedded in some cob is one thing. Eating produce grown on toxic landfill is totally another.

Only an opinion, be it heavily opinionated, i cannot be the only one who thinks this a terrible idea unless you remediate AND test. A verified result of none of these contaminates surviving a double dig or two would make me change my opinion, though bioremediation with mycellium or other is quite a bit above rocket science and it must be a quite serious procedure otherwise we wouldnt have any toxic wase issues at all, we could just plant seeds and spores on all the discarded telephone books and oilchanges and pig out to a brave new world.
frank li
Posts: 600
Location: Michigan
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As an aside. Speaking of "a brave new world", Paul Stamets, this guy has some underlying sinister demeaner i cant quite pin down. That and his "gifts" to the world fungus based pest solution for ants and termites and mycellium and soil based remediation are great achievments......... for homeland security and darpa and simply not available to you and i, for how long now?

I have his book mycellium runniing, a masterpiece on the subject. His lectures awesome, interview in a more chillax setting on joe rogans vidcast, hauntingly malevalent.

One thing i came away with was vegetable oil in chainsaws as bar lube. They cut into stumps and lay in innoculated hemp rope. Good technology.

I have been doing this for firewood cutting and proscessing for 7 or 8 years and ill never do it another way. Canola in the cold and soy in warmer temps organic when we can afford it. My wife worked at a natural food store for 15 years and we used to have a major discoount and organic veg oil discards went home with us.
Posts: 203
Location: NNSW Australia
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One thing missing from this thread is definitive and credible citations.

Dioxins are as natural as toxins come. The product of every act of combustion and volcanic eruption.
If you've ever stood near a fire or eaten an animal, you'll get more dioxin than composting paper.
Soil is the natural place for dioxins to be broken down.
Compost is exceptional at denaturing compounds - even so-called 'persistent' herbicides.

Dioxins in Soil
The reason the EPA doesn't heavily monitor dioxins is because plant uptake is miniscule, even when soil is swamped with vast amounts of dioxin laden sewage.

It seems many are addicted to paranoia and see malevolent forces in every chemical structure - which is ironic when humic acid has the weirdest structure of any molecule.
It's always worthwhile acknowledging the limits to what you know and deferring to academia and regulatory bodies as they investigate the risks posed by materials and methodologies.
Posts: 49
Location: Southeastern Louisiana
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I'll say, at least when it comes to inks, it's getting harder and harder to find the original cadmium based stuff in an American market. Most cad yellows are made by eco friendly alternatives now in my experience.

For those worried about dioxins... well considering what's happening with the recycling industry right now, I'd rather my dioxins go into the ground than into some kids' lungs.
Posts: 398
Location: Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
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Many points to comment on.

I thought long ago, that a big part of glossy advertising was clay (someone mentioned kaolin, well that is a clay).  There could easily be other components that are a problem.

I would have thought that when printers moved to soy based inks, that the reason to do so would be independent of black versus coloured.  The lifetime of many of these print products is days at most.  Having to use an ink that is colourfast for decades is not needed.

I've been looking for data on  glossy and coloured print, and not finding it yet (and recent).  I hope to find something soon.

Someone said sulfates are toxic.  Sulfuric acid will hurt you, I don't think it is the sulfate that gets you.  There may be some sulfates which are toxic.

There are metals and there are metals.  I believe to the astronomy community, anything with an atomic number higher than 2 is a metal.  To me, a "heavy metal" is at least 4th row.  Lead (Pb) is a dency, high atomic mass metal.  Cadmium is up there.  If you irradiate them with alpha particles (from a nuclear source), they will fluoresce X-rays and hence are rather easy to detect.  Not all metal species are equivalent; big difference between hexavalent chromium and other valences of chromium.

Much of the biochar/bio-oil/bio-gas seems to be talking combustion methods to produce these things.  I've thought about this, but I would much rather come at this from solar-thermal and just use destructive distillation with no oxygen input.  The bio-oil fraction often is usable for asphalt.  In specific instances, I think the bio-oil fraction may be considered similar to pitch; and possibly useful to make carbon fibre.

I don't think any old organic source should be subject to destructive distillation as a first process.  Used motor oil is a good example, it needs to be processed in other ways first.  But it may be that pyrolysis is the process to use at the end.  In term of bio-char (which to me is very similar to activated charcoal), I don't want to produce bio-char which has "mobile" toxic species in it.  If there is a way to produce bio-char which makes things like lead(Pb) less mobile, I would be less worrysome about lead(Pb).  If your bio-char has 1ppm levels of the rare earths, uranium or thorium; I wouldn't worry about them (that is about the same as everywhere else on Earth).

But, if you have on your farm the ability to destructively distill "farm products"; what happens if you should get hit with a destruction order for all the chickens on your farm?  Using destructive distillation will probably get rid of whatever bird flu (or related) that caused the destruction order to be issued.  It seems more likely for a monoculture farm to get hit with a destruction order; but it is possible that a permaculture farm could get hit.  Is anthrax more likely for a permaculture farm?

There is lots of scrap iron/steel all over.  A way to recycle that is to produce new cast iron/steel.  For someone on the farm, I think you should stay away from producing your own hot metal for structural purposes.  If you want to make frames for park benches (and there isn't a bunch of radioactive cobalt in the melt - it has happened sometimes) and they don't need to be hot worked (forged, blacksmithed); I would consider using a high phosphorous iron alloy as a target.  The iron pillars in India are a high phosphorus iron, and they have had phenomenal corrosion resistance over the centuries.  Zinc tends to be volatile with respect to iron and steelmaking; I would have to look into lead(Pb), cadmium and others.  But if you had some small amount of a vanadium compound on youyr farm, sticking it in an iron alloy with "high" phosphourus content would probably be okay.

There are ways of encapsulating materials in glass.  And there are some glasses that melt at sufficiently low temperatures that things like zinc could be used there.

If you are going to dispose of things on the farm, you need to know where it is.  You need latitude/longitude and depth.  You probably should put it in a stainless steel container, and maybe there is some way to attach a conductor to it, so that you can locate it with RF similar to pipelines.

You can't (easily) cast deep things in epoxy, too much exotherm.  But epoxy is a fairly inert material.  Next step up for many things, is to encapsulate in glass.  But for both, you then stick the "slug" into a stainless steel can.

Try to keep similar things in the can(s).

That's enough.  Probably too long anyway.
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