Facts About Dioxin and Health


Facts About Dioxin and Health

People's risk from dioxin actually is declining, because environmental levels of dioxin are going down.

  • People are exposed to less dioxin today than in the past 50 years.

  • The potential health effects associated with dioxin -- as with any chemical -- are directly related to the level of exposure: the lower the exposure, the less the likelihood of adverse effects.

  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency's Summary of the Dioxin Reassessment, Information Sheet (June 2000), "currently there is no clear indication of increased disease in the general population attributable to dioxin-like compounds."

There is no specific consensus that dioxin causes adverse health effects in people at today's environmental levels.

  • EPA's decision to classify dioxin as a "known human carcinogen" is based mainly on animal studies and very limited human data.

  • Many respected scientists and hundreds of studies do not support EPA's contention that dioxin causes cancer at levels found in today's environment.

  • Increased rates of cancer, possibly from dioxin, have only been seen in workers exposed for many years at levels 100 to 1,000 times higher than the general population. However, exposure to other chemicals and cigarette smoking may have affected the results of this study, published in the May 1999 Journal of the National Cancer Institute. According to Dr. Robert Hoover of the National Cancer Institute, this study is a "critical piece of evidence" that shows that dioxin, at its present levels in the environment, appears to present no significant threat to public health.

  • There is no scientific consensus that dioxin causes adverse health effects in people at today's environmental levels. What EPA has said is that dioxin has the "potential  (emphasis added) to produce a broad spectrum of adverse effects in humans" based on information from animal studies.
A healthy diet and lifestyle are the best ways to reduce exposure to dioxin Americans are healthier and living longer than ever.
  • According to EPA, 95% of dioxin exposure occurs through the diet.
  • Since dioxin accumulates in fat tissue, the best way to lower risk is to follow the recommendations of the Federal Dietary Guidelines, according to EPA, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and other government agencies:

    • Choose fish, lean meats, poultry and low- or fat-free dairy products, and increase consumption of fruits, vegetables and grains.

    • In addition, trim visible fat, remove the skin from poultry and fish, reduce the amount of butter or lard, and use cooking methods (e.g., broiling) that reduce fat.

  • Additionally, dioxin is produced by residential wood burning, backyard trash burning and cigarette smoke. Minimizing these activities will also reduce exposure to dioxin.

According to the U.S. governments most recent Annual Summary of Vital Statistics:

  • Life expectancy reached an all-time high of 76.7 years for babies born in 1998, and the U.S. death rate hit a record low.

  • Death rates from major causes (stroke, heart disease and cancer) are all declining. Deaths from infectious disease are down more than 700% since the start of the 20th century.

  • The number of new cancer cases for all cancer combined declined 0.9% between 1990-1996.

  • Overall cancer mortality rates declined as well, although the death rate from lung cancer has tripled since 1950.




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