Excerpts From "Questions and Answers About Dioxins1"

By The Interagency Working Group on Dioxins, consisting of:

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Agriculture
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Department of State
Executive Office of the President

-- January 2003; updated October 2003

How might I be exposed to dioxins?

Most of the population has low-level exposure to dioxins. Although dioxin is an environmental contaminant, most dioxin exposure occurs through the diet, with over 95% coming through dietary intake of animal fats. Small amounts of exposure occur from breathing air containing trace amounts of dioxins on particles and in vapor form, from inadvertent ingestion of soil containing dioxins, and from absorption through the skin contacting air, soil, or water containing minute levels.

Is the food supply safe?

The U.S. food supply is among the safest and most nutritious in the world. While the federal food and environmental agencies are concerned about dioxin, the [EPA's dioxin reassessment] draft report does not change the government's view of the overall safety of the food supply in this country. Maintaining the safety of the food supply is a top U.S. government priority.

How long has dioxin exposure existed?

Dioxins have been around for a long time. There are natural sources for dioxins like brush and forest fires and volcanic eruptions, although natural sources contribute little to the current background dioxin levels. In the 1920's, as a consequence of industrialization, dioxin levels began increasing in the global environment. Declines in environmental levels began in the 1970's when dioxins were recognized as highly toxic chemicals and governments and industry took actions to prevent environmental pollution.

1On-line. Available: http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~lrd/dioxinqa.html#top accessed October 18, 2004.
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