The Alkaline Paper Advocate

Volume 3, Number 5
Nov 1990

Some Credible Information on Dioxin

In the October issue of this newsletter, in the article entitled "The Shortage of Credible information on Dioxin," there was a two-paragraph description of a literature review prepared for a March 1990 seminar of the Chlorine Institute, presented by George L. Carlo, Health & Environmental Sciences Corporation. The title of that review is "Scientific Research on the Health Effects of Dioxins in the Environment," and it is available as part of the proceedings from that seminar for $15 from the Chlorine Institute, 2001 L St., NW, Suite 506, Washington, DC 20036. The excerpts that follow were taken from p. 4, 6-8 and 11-12.

Dioxins have been with us since cavemen first harnessed fire. The main source of trace levels of these chemicals in the environment is low temperature combustion (Bumb, R. C., et al., 1980). Dioxins, including TCDD [2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, the most toxic form], are produced during such everyday sources of combustion as refuse incinerators or open air burning facilities, wood-burning stoves, automobiles and trucks, fireplaces, charcoal grills, cigarettes, some chemical manufacturing processes and even lightning strikes. In the United States, the major source of these chemicals is municipal incinerators. As a result of these various sources of low temperature combustion, background levels of dioxins can be expected in the parts per trillion range everywhere....

As the epidemiological database on dioxins has evolved over the last decade, the human health risks which are predicted based m the animal studies are not being seen in humans. Humans appear to be less sensitive to TCDD than laboratory animals. The weight of the scientific evidence suggests that:

Many scientists now believe that low level exposure to dioxins does not represent a serious public health hazard.

While some studies purport to show an association between exposure to dioxins and cancer in human, those studies are widely criticized and not widely accepted by the scientific community.

Independent Reviews

Several international organizations have reviewed the extensive scientific databases on health effects of dioxins, including the American Medical Association; Universities Associated for Research mid Education in Pathology, Inc.; the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization; the United Kingdom Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food; the Commission of European Communities; the American Council on Science and Health; the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST); the Scientific Advisory Panel for the U.S. Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act; the U.S. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; the U.S. Veterans Administration; and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

These scientific reviews point in the same direction: Epidemiological data evaluating chronic effects of TCDD exposure indicate that human are far less susceptible to TCDD than laboratory animals. The weight of the scientific evidence does not suggest an association between exposure to TCDD and cancer in human -nor does the weight of the evidence suggest an association between TCDD and reproductive effects in humans . At low levels in the parts per billion and parts per trillion ranges, there are m known adverse effects of TCDD exposure in human....

Characteristics of Dioxin

Extensive research on the environmental fate of dioxins indicates the following:


Bumb, R. R., Crumett, W. B., et al. (1980): "Trace Chemistries of Fire: A Source of Chlorinated Dioxins." Science, 210:385-390. Oct. 24, 1980.

Stevens, K. M. (1981): "Agent Orange Toxicity: The Quantitative Perspective." Human Toxicology, 1:31-39.

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