Dioxin is not foamy

Dioxin does not look like this.

The picture below is featured in the Florida Independent‘s “Researcher fears the unknown in Georgia-Pacific effluent,” which fearmongers about dioxin.

But dioxin is an invisible trace contaminant from pulp and paper mills. We don’t know what that foam is, but it’s not dioxin.

We wonder if there’s actually more dioxin here:

The dioxin scare debunked, courtesy of Ben & Jerry's.

Read “Debunkey Monkey.”

3 thoughts on “Dioxin is not foamy”

  1. Actually, the purpose of the story was to document one researcher’s fears about what is in the Georgia-Pacific effluent BESIDES dioxin, and what impact those elements might have on the already-polluted St. Johns River. So I do think an image of the polluted river is an appropriate photo to accompany the piece.

  2. I have seen similar foam in ‘pristine’ mountain streams of the Colorado mountains, far upstream of any industrial activity. As a chemist I suspect organic surfactants produced by the natural decomposition of biomass. They seem more prevalent when flow rates in the streams are high enough to cause turbulence, and when water temperatures are higher. It seemed scarcer when the water was very cold (i.e. snow melt). I suspect the surfactants are only weakly soluble in water, and less soluble in cold water.

  3. It’s effluent from a sulfate (kraft) paper mill, so it’s probably liquor foam from the digester cooking process which breaks down the wood chips into fiber. Almost 100% of the black liquor itself is recovered, reconstituted and reused as fuel (biofuel !) in the boilers to produce steam and electricity, supplementing the use either natural gas or oil.

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