Excerpts From "Questions and Answers About
By The Interagency Working Group on Dioxins,
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
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.