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Dioxins-the most toxic substance to humans

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  • Dioxins-the most toxic substance to humans

    What is dioxin? Dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals known. A
    report released for public comment in September 1994 by the US
    Environmental Protection Agency clearly describes dioxin as a
    serious public health threat.

    The public health impact of dioxin may rival the impact that DDT had on
    public health in the 1960's.

    According to the EPA report, not only does there appear to be
    no "safe" level of exposure to dioxin, but levels of dioxin and
    dioxin-like chemicals have been found in the general US population
    that are "at or near levels associated with adverse health effects."

    The EPA report confirmed that dioxin is a cancer hazard to people;
    that exposure to dioxin can also cause severe reproductive and
    developmental problems
    (at levels 100 times lower than those associated with its cancer causing
    and that dioxin can cause immune system damage and interfere with
    regulatory hormones.

    Dioxin is a general term that describes a group of hundreds of
    chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment.

    The most toxic compound is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin or TCDD.
    The toxicity of other dioxins and chemicals like PCBs that act like
    dioxin are measured in relation to TCDD.

    Dioxin is formed as an unintentional by-product of many industrial
    processes involving chlorine such as waste incineration, chemical and
    pesticide manufacturing and pulp and paper bleaching.

    Dioxin was the primary toxic component of Agent Orange, was found at
    Love Canal in Niagara Falls, NY and was the basis for evacuations at
    Times Beach, MO and Seveso Italy.

    Where does dioxin come from?

    Dioxin is formed by burning chlorine-based chemical compounds with
    The major source of dioxin in the environment (95%) comes from
    incinerators burning chlorinated wastes.

    Dioxin pollution is also affiliated with paper mills which use chlorine
    bleaching in their process and with the production of Polyvinyl Chloride
    (PVC) plastics.

    What health effects are related to exposure to dioxin and dioxin-like

    Sperm count in men worldwide has dropped to 50% of what it was 50 years
    The incidence of testicular cancer has tripled in the last 50 years, and
    prostate cancer has doubled.

    Endometriosis - the painful growth outside the uterus of cells that
    normally line the uterus - -which was formerly a rare condition, now
    afflicts 5 million American women.

    In 1960, a woman's chance of developing breast cancer during her
    lifetime was one in 20. Today the chances are one in eight.

    How are we exposed to dioxin?

    The major sources of dioxin are in our diet.
    Since dioxin is fat-soluble, it bioaccumulates up the food chain and it
    is mainly (97.5%) found in meat and dairy products
    (beef, dairy products, milk, chicken, pork, in that order.

    In EPA's dioxin report, they refer to dioxin as "hydrophobic".

    This means that dioxin avoids other vegetation.

    Rather,Dioxin will find animals to go in to, working its way to the top
    of the food chain.

    Men have no ways to get rid of dioxin other than letting it break down
    according to its chemical half-lives.
    Women, on the other hand, have two ways which it can exit their bodies:
    It crosses the placenta... into the growing infant;
    It is present in the fatty breast milk,
    which is also a route of exposure which doses the infant, making
    breast-feeding for non-vegetarian mothers quite hazardous.

    This is where you get dioxin from Total exposure/injestion = 119 pg/day
    Beef 38.0
    Dairy 24.1
    Milk 17.6
    Chicken 12.9
    Pork 12.2
    Inhalation 2.2
    Soil .8
    Water Negligible

    Chart from EPA Dioxin Reassessment Summary 4/94 - Vol. 1, p. 37 (Figure
    II-5.Background TEQ exposures for North America by pathway) EPA's
    reports on dioxin.

    Much of this new research into the health effects of dioxin was
    undertaken in response to industry challenges to EPA's findings on
    the toxicity of dioxin in 1991.
    Now, 3 years later, dioxin was found to be more dangerous than ever.

    Copies of the EPA Health Assessment report may be obtained by
    contacting: CERI/ORD Publications Center
    USEPA 26 W. Martin Luther King Drive Cincinnati, OH 45268 (513) 569-
    7562; fax (513) 569-7566. EPA's Scientific Advisory Board has
    completed its reassessment of dioxin.

    To get copies of the dioxin report, contact Sam Rondberg at the EPA at
    (202) 260-2559. The final report issued by the Health and Exposures
    Panels of the Science Advisory Board regarding the dioxin reassessment
    is now available.
    Get your copy by calling the SAB at: 202-260-8414, or
    fax: 202-260-1889. Environmental Research Foundation's RACHEL's
    Environment & Health Weekly Issues (many links follow)

    What Is Dioxin?

    Dioxin is the name generally given to a class of super-toxic chemicals,
    the chlorinated dioxins and furans, formed as a by-product of the
    manufacture, molding, or burning of organic chemicals and plastics that
    contain chlorine.

    It is the nastiest, most toxic man-made organic chemical; its toxicity
    is second only to *radioactive* waste.

    Dioxin made headlines several years ago at places such as Love Canal,
    where hundreds of families needed to abandon their homes due to dioxin
    contamination, and Times Beach, Missouri, a town that was abandoned as a
    result of dioxin.

    Dioxin - An Unprecedented Threat

    We now know that dioxin exhibits serious health effects when it reaches
    as little as a few parts per trillion in your body fat.

    Dioxin is a powerful "hormone-disrupting" chemical.

    By binding to a cell's hormone receptor, it literally modifies the
    functioning and genetic mechanism of the cell, causing a wide range
    of effects, from cancer to reduced immunity to nervous system
    disorders to miscarriages and birth deformity.

    Because it literally changes the functioning of your cells, the effects
    can be very obvious or very subtle. Because it changes gene functions,
    it can cause so-called genetic diseases to appear, and can interfere
    with child development.

    There is no "threshold" dose -the tiniest amount can cause damage, and
    our bodies have no defense against it.
    Unfortunately, according to the EPA, much of the population of the
    U.S. is at the dose at which there can be serious health effects.

    How did this happen?

    For about 40 years we have seen a dramatic increase in the manufacture
    and use of chlorinated organic chemicals and plastics.

    For chemicals, it was insecticides and herbicides (weed killers).

    For plastics, it was primarily polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

    From phonograph records to automobile seat covers to wire insulation to
    shampoo bottles to handbags to house siding to plumbing pipes to
    wallpaper, we are literally surrounded by PVC.

    When these chemicals and plastics are manufactured or burned, dioxin
    is produced as an unwanted (but inevitable) by-product.

    Dioxin had been a little-known threat for many years near factories that
    produce PVC plastic or chlorinated pesticides and herbicides, and where
    those pesticides and herbicides have been heavily used, such as on
    farms, near electric and railway lines, apple orchards, paper company
    It became better known when Vietnam War veterans and Vietnamese
    civilians, exposed to dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange, became ill.

    It has been a hazard downstream of paper mills (where chlorine bleach
    combines with natural organics in wood pulp
    and produces dioxin).
    Several towns and cities have become contaminated as a result of
    chemical spills or manufacturing emissions, some that needed to be
    evacuated. Love Canal (Niagara Falls, N.Y), Seveso (Italy), Times Beach
    (Missouri), Pensacola (Florida), and the entire city of Midland,
    Michigan have high concentrations of dioxin.

    Bizarre health effects, such as cancer, spina bifida (split spine) and
    other birth defects, autism, liver disease, endometriosis, reduced
    immunity, chronic fatigue syndrome, and other nerve and blood disorders
    have been noted.

    But in the last 20 years we have begun to burn household and industrial
    trash and medical waste in mass-burn incinerators.
    The result - given that we have disposable vinyl plastic all around us -
    has been a dramatic increase in dioxin contamination everywhere in the

    Dioxin, formed during burning, is carried for hundreds of miles on tiny
    specks of fly-ash from the incinerators.
    It settles on crops, which then get eaten by cows, steers, pigs, and
    chickens. It contaminates lakes, streams, and the ocean.

    Like the pesticides such as DDT, dioxin 'accumulates' in the fat cells
    of the animals, and re-appears in meat and milk.

    Dioxin is virtually indestructible in most environments, and is excreted
    by the body extremely slowly.

    How To Avoid Dioxin --
    Do not eat beef, pork or Dairy, which have some of the largest
    concentrations of dioxin of all food sources. Chicken has the lowest
    dioxin content of all meats, but is still 'significant'.

    Vegetarian meat substitutes such as organic tofu, beans, and rice have
    essentially no contamination.
    If your family drinks milk, drink only organic skim milk, since dioxin
    is carried in the 'butterfat'.
    Avoid all full-fat dairy products, such as butter, cheese and ice
    Use dairy substitutes. Do not breast-feed infants, as human milk
    contains more dioxin than any other food (in relation to an infant s
    body weight), unless you have eaten a non-dairy, low-fat vegetarian diet
    for several years.

    Avoid all organic chemicals that have "chloro" as part of their names
    (such as the wood preservative pentachlorophenol, which is probably the
    most dioxin-contaminated household chemical).

    Avoid chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and products containing it.
    (Use oxygen bleach nstead).
    Use unbleached paper products. Do not use weed killers or insecticides
    that contain chlorine.
    Especially avoid the chlorophenol weed killers, such as 2,4-D, found in
    most fertilizer/weed killers and used by commercial lawn services.
    Avoid "Permethrin" flea sprays for pets.

    Avoid household or personal products and toys made of or packaged in
    polyvinyl chloride - PVC - labeled V or #3 plastic.
    (For example, Beanie Babies are filled with PVC beads, which often
    produce cancer-causing vinyl chloride fumes and are often contaminated
    with dioxin.)

    Avoid using Saran Wrap and similar "cling-type" plastic wraps (unless
    they are clearly identified as non-chlorinated plastic.).

    Wash all fruits and vegetables carefully to remove chlorophenol
    pesticide residue.

    Avoid grapes and raisins unless they are clearly labeled as organic
    (grown without pesticides).

    Avoid all products which have *cottonseed* oil as an ingredient (such as
    potato chips), since cotton is often sprayed with chlorophenol
    Moderator's Note: Cottonseed oil is also genetically engineered!

    Do not use soaps containing tallow (most soaps), as it is made from
    animal fat.
    Avoid "deodorant" soaps and deodorants containing "triclosan," a

    What You Can Do

    The way to reduce the dioxin threat is to stop burning trash and
    to stop producing PVC and other chlorinated chemicals.

    If your town sends its trash to an incinerator, tell your town officials
    to institute comprehensive recycling.

    Write to companies that use vinyl and ask them to use the known safe

    Ask your supermarket and office supply stores to sell Totally Chlorine
    Free (TCF) products. Learn more about the dioxin threat.
    Read the books "Dying From Dioxin" by Lois Gibbs, and "Our Stolen
    Future" by Theo Colborn.

    Talk to your friends and neighbors about dioxin and what you can do
    to reduce the threat.
    Join a community environmental organization, or form one if there are
    none in your town. Call a state or national organization to get help.

    Download a copy of a Microsoft Word Version 6-compatible version of this
    document for a community information leaflet.
    U.S. McLibel Support Campaign Email [email protected] PO Box 62
    Phone/Fax 802-586-9628 Craftsbury VT 05826-0062
    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
    Mitchell B. Stargrove,N.D., L.Ac.

    Integrative Medical Arts Group, Inc. 503/526-1972 4720 SW Watson
    Avenue, Beaverton, OR 97005 fax: 503/643-4633

    Integrative Medicine, Natural Health and Alternative Therapies
    IBIS Medical Software: Interactive BodyMind Information System
    subject: . DIOXIN AND HEALTH .

    . .


    . ========== .

    . Environmental Research Foundation .
    . P.O. Box 5036, Annapolis, MD 21403 .
    . Fax (410) 263-8944; Internet: [email protected] .

    ================================================== ===============

    The word "dioxin" stands for a group of chemicals that occurs

    rarely, if ever, in nature.

    A very large proportion of dioxin comes from human sources.

    Dioxin began accumulating in the environment around 1900 when the
    founder of Dow Chemical (in Midland, Michigan) invented a way to split
    table salt into sodium atoms and chlorine atoms, thus making large
    quantities of "free chlorine" available for the first time.

    (Dow's chlorine is "free" in the sense of "chemically unattached," not
    free in the sense of "without cost.")

    Initially, Dow considered free chlorine a useless and dangerous waste.
    But soon a way was found to turn this waste into a useful product,
    attaching chlorine atoms onto petroleum hydrocarbons and thus creating,
    during the 1930s and 1940s, a vast array of "chlorinated hydrocarbons."

    These new chemicals, in turn, gave rise to many of today's
    pesticides, solvents, plastics, and so forth. Unfortunately,
    when these chlorinated hydrocarbons are processed in a chemical
    plant, or are burned in an incinerator, they release an unwanted
    byproduct --dioxin

    --the most toxic family of chemicals ever studied.

    Dioxin is released by paper mills, by metal smelters, by many
    chemical plants, by many pesticide factories, and by all

    According to Greenpeace chemist Pat Costner, the
    biggest source of dioxin discharges into the environment is
    factories that make the popular plastic, PVC (polyvinyl
    chloride).[2] Industry and EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection
    Agency) have known much of the bad news about dioxin since at
    least the late 1970s, but have done little or nothing about it.

    In 1991, the paper industry and the Chlorine Council (a trade
    group) pressured EPA to relax the few dioxin standards that EPA
    had set at the time; in response, EPA has spent the last 4 years
    re-examining the toxicity of dioxin, in preparation for deciding
    what to do about it. (See REHW #269, #270, #275.) EPA released a draft
    of its 9-volume "dioxin reassessment" last year (see REHW
    #390 and #391). Yesterday, EPA's Science Advisory Board released
    its own critique of the 9-volume "dioxin reassessment."[3]

    Congress has attacked Chapter 9 of EPA's dioxin reassessment --the
    chapter that contains most of the chillingly bad news about dioxin. We
    reported in REHW #457 that Congress was preparing to pillory EPA
    scientists in a public hearing; that hearing has been delayed, and
    perhaps has been scrapped completely. "Conservatives" in Congress
    complain that Chapter 9 has not been adequately "peer reviewed."

    Last month the main authors of EPA's Chapter 9 published --in a

    peer-reviewed journal --their own conclusions about the toxicity

    of dioxin.[4]

    The basic message from these senior EPA scientists is that dioxin

    is toxic to humans in surprisingly many ways, and that the

    general public is not adequately protected from ill effects by a

    traditional "margin of safety."

    Public health policy usually aims to keep the public's exposure to
    poisons at least 100 times below levels known to harm humans or animals.
    As we will see,

    this new report from EPA shows that U.S. adults are already

    carrying around an average dioxin burden in their bodies that is

    remarkably close to the levels known to cause illness in humans

    or animals.

    We want to note at the outset that all of the results reported

    here were taken from peer-reviewed literature and were

    statistically significant. All of the following information is

    taken from the new EPA study.[4]

    EPA'S LATEST FINDINGS: EPA says the average U.S. citizen has no

    particular exposure to dioxin besides what is routinely eaten in

    food --mainly in red meat, fish, and dairy products.

    This routine dietary exposure has produced an average body burden that

    is estimated to be 13 nanograms of dioxin per kilogram of body

    weight (ng/kg). (A nanogram is a billionth of a gram; a gram is

    1/28th of an ounce. A kilogram is about 2.2 pounds.) Ng/kg is

    equivalent to parts per trillion. So 13 ng/kg seems tiny --and

    as an absolute quantity it is.

    But compared to the amount that causes havoc in dioxin-exposed animals
    and humans, 13 ng/kg

    qualifies as a major public health problem, in our opinion. (EPA

    estimates that 5% of Americans --some 12.5 million people --have

    body burdens twice the average.) Here are some effects of

    dioxin, as reported by EPA:[4]

    CHLORACNE: Chloracne was the first disease associated with

    exposure to dioxin, first described in 1897. Chloracne appeared

    as an occupational problem in the 1930s among pesticide workers,

    and among workers who manufactured industrial chemicals called

    PCBs [polychlorinated biphenyls].

    However, dioxin was not identified as the cause of chloracne until
    about 1960. (Dioxin was an unwanted contaminant of the pesticides and

    Chloracne produces skin eruptions, cysts and 'pustules' --like a
    very bad case of teenage acne, except that the sores can occur
    all over the body and in serious cases can last for many years.

    To grasp the nature of a bad case of chloracne, we can recall Dr.

    Raymond Suskind's description of one of his patients, a white man

    who got chloracne from dioxin exposure in a Monsanto chemical

    plant in West Virginia in 1949: "... he has given up all social

    and athletic functions and remained in his house, according to

    his own description, for months on end.

    Several times he has been mistaken for a Negro and forced to conform
    with the racial segregation customs of the area. This has happened on
    buses or in the theatres [sic]," Suskind wrote.[5]

    In laboratory animals, chloracne occurs at body burdens as low as

    23 ng/kg and as high as 13,900 ng/kg; in humans, chloracne has

    occurred at body burdens as low as 96 ng/kg and as high as 3000

    ng/kg. This means that some humans get chloracne when their

    dioxin body burden is only 7 times as high as the body burden of

    the average person in the U.S. today.

    In other words, there is

    not even a factor of 10 separating the average person from the

    possibility of chloracne. In fact, the EPA study cites examples

    of humans getting chloracne with body burdens only 3 times as

    high as the U.S. average.

    CANCER: There have been 5 peer-reviewed studies showing cancer in humans
    exposed to dioxin. The exposures occurred through
    accidents or through routine activities at work.

    These studies of humans show that, for some human populations, the
    danger of cancer begins to rise noticeably when the dioxin body burden
    reaches 109 ng/kg. This means that a cancer effect in humans is evident
    when the dioxin body burden reaches a point 8 times as
    high as the average dioxin body burden in the U.S. public.

    Again, there is not a factor of even 10 separating the average
    American from the possibility of cancer from dioxin.

    on monkeys (marmosets) reveal learning disabilities in young
    monkeys with a dioxin body burden as low as 42 ng/kg.[6]

    Thus learning disorders are evident in monkeys who have a dioxin body
    burden only 3.2 times as high as that of the average American.

    Again, there is not a factor of even 10 separating the average

    U.S. resident from the possibility of a dioxin effect on the

    central nervous system.

    DECREASED MALE SEX HORMONE: Researchers at the National Institute

    of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found reduced levels of

    testosterone --male sex hormone --circulating in the blood of

    dioxin-exposed male workers.[7]

    Other sex hormone levels in

    these men were affected as well. If we can assume that dioxin

    exposure caused the diminished testosterone levels, then some

    humans are 280 times as sensitive as rats are, from the viewpoint

    of testosterone. What seems most important is that these

    dioxin-exposed workers had body burdens only 1.3 times the dioxin

    body burden of the U.S. population. Thus there is not even close

    to a factor of 10 separating the average U.S. male from the

    testosterone effects seen in dioxin-exposed workers. The

    reduction in testosterone levels was statistically significant,

    but the reduction was small and the measured levels still

    remained within the range that is considered normal.

    DIABETES: In two studies, an increased incidence of diabetes has

    been reported in dioxin-exposed Vietnam veterans; a third study

    that reaches similar conclusions was reportedly released last

    week by the U.S. Air Force.[8] The body burdens that seem to

    produce an increase in diabetes range from 99 to 140 ng/kg.


    the average American, with a body burden of 13 ng/kg, is a factor

    of 8 below the lowest level thought to create a diabetes hazard.

    Once again, there is not even a factor of 10 separating the

    general public from the levels though to cause health problems in

    dioxin-exposed people.

    IMMUNE SYSTEM TOXICITY: In monkeys (marmosets), changes in white

    blood cells associated with the immune system can be measured at

    dioxin levels of 10 ng/kg --25% below the level already found in

    average Americans.

    Mice with body burdens of 10 ng/kg --25% below the amount already found
    in you and me --display an increased susceptibility to infections by
    viruses, presumably because their immune system has been damaged.

    SPERM LOSS AND ENDOMETRIOSIS. Female rhesus monkeys with body

    burdens only 5 times as high as the U.S. average have a

    measurable increase in the painful, debilitating disease of the

    uterus, called endometriosis.

    Endometriosis is increasing in U.S. women. (REHW #364, #377.) Male
    offspring of rats with a body burden only 5 times as high as the U.S.
    average have diminished sperm production. During the last 50 years,
    sperm production of men through the industrialized world has dropped
    50%. (REHW #343, #432.)

    CONCLUSION: We have only scratched the surface of the bad news

    that has accumulated about dioxin. It is an astonishingly

    versatile and potent poison. EPA, and the corporations that

    release dioxin into the environment, have waffled and fudged for

    20 years or more.

    The answer to this burgeoning public health

    problem is clear, if not easy: over the next 20 years, we must

    ban chlorine as an industrial feed stock and thus cut off the

    source of all dioxins. What other choice do we have?

    --Peter Montague


    [1] Jack Weinberg, editor, DOW BRAND DIOXIN (Washington, D.C.:

    Greenpeace, September, 1995); 34 pages, $15.00, from Sanjay

    Mishra at Greenpeace: (202) 319-2444.


    BURDEN (Washington, D.C.: Greenpeace, February, 1995); $15.00;

    available from Sanjay Mishra at Greenpeace: (202) 319-2444.

    [3] Copies of the Science Advisory Board's dioxin critique are

    available, while supplies last, by phoning (202) 260-8414.

    [4] Michael J. DeVito and others, "Comparisons of Estimated Human

    Body Burdens of Dioxinlike Chemicals and TCDD Body Burdens in

    Experimentally Exposed Animals," ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH

    PERSPECTIVES Vol. 103, No. 9 (September, 1995), pgs. 820-831.



    Ohio: Kettering Laboratory, April, 1950), pg. 9.

    [6] S.L. Schantz and others, "Learning in monkeys exposed

    perinatally to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD)."

    NEUROTOXICOLOGY AND TERATOLOGY Vol. 11 (1989), pgs. 13-19. And

    see: R. Bowman and others, "Behavioral Effects in Monkeys Exposed

    to 2,3,7,8-TCDD Transmitted Maternally During Gestation and

    During Four Months of Nursing." CHEMOSPHERE Vol. 18 (1989), pgs.


    [7] Grace M. Egeland and others, "Total Serum Testosterone and

    Gonadotropins in Workers Exposed to Dioxin," AMERICAN JOURNAL OF

    EPIDEMIOLOGY Vol. 139 (1994), pgs. 272-281.

    [8] Reuters reported October 6 on a new 20-year study of Air

    Force veterans exposed to Agent Orange. Reuters said the new

    study shows that dioxin-exposed vets have an increased incidence

    of diabetes and heart disease. We believe the new study is

    available from Donna Tinsley at the Air Force; phone (202)

    767-4587. Thanks to Pat Costner of Greenpeace for this


    Descriptor terms: dioxin; chlorine; dow chemical; epa; studies;

    pesticides; solvents; smelting; pulp and paper industry; pvc;

    pcbs; epa science advisory board; food safety; diet; meat; milk;

    dairy products; fish; chloracne; cancer; learning disabilities;

    central nervous system; testosterone; androgens; occupational

    safety and health; diabetes; ranch hand study; vietnam veterans;

    immunotoxicity; viruses; sperm count; endometriosis; greenpeace;

    pat costner;

    ################################################## ##############


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    [email protected]

    " We know that to err is human, but the HIV/AIDS hypothesis is one hell of a mistake"
    Dr. Kary Mullis, Nobel Prize Winner in Chemistry for inventing the Polymerase Chain Reaction

    "The fact is that you can not start off with bad science and end up with good medicine"

  • #2
    The facts in these articles has not stated that here in america the dioxins generated in inceneraors is caputred in emission control technology.

    One big thing to mention is that america is the tip of the iceberg for dioxin release as many thrid world contries will burn hologenated polymer chains in an uncontrolled open air scenario. The united states has done a really good job of cleaning the dioxin mess up although Greenpeace and various NGO's will never be happy until every single dioxin is eliminated which impossible as there are only 8 identifyed dioxins that are considered the most dabgerous to humans and there are hundreds of them. Just understand when you burn wood you release dioxins, which are considered unhealthy too.....
    The Official DC Training DVD....."You want fries with that?"


    "The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war. "

    - General George S. Patton


    • #3
      Thanks admin, for informational post
      I work as an art teacher in a school. I lessons and draw paintings to my students.