Exposure to Dioxins, Furans, and PCBs is Down Dramatically

The overall level of human exposure to dioxins, furans and dioxin-like PCBs (based on TEQ1) is declining dramatically. The figure above illustrates this decline and also shows that the percentage of exposure to TCDD, the most toxic member of this group of chemicals, is greatly reduced from previous levels. By 2010, it is projected that there will be virtually no exposure to TCDD. Thus, today's mix of dioxins, furans, and dioxin-like PCBs is significantly less toxic than mixtures of the early 1970's, when human exposures to these chemicals peaked.


1 Toxicity units are "TEQ". "TEQ" denotes "toxic equivalent", a quantitative measure of the combined toxicity of a mixture of dioxin-like chemicals.
**World Health Organization (1998). Executive Summary. Assessment of the health risk of dioxins: Re-evaluation of the Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI). [On-Line]. Available: http://www.who.int/pcs/pubs/dioxin-exec-sum/exe-sum-final.html
** World Health Organization (1989). The WHO Environmental Health Criteria Series, No. 88: Polychlorinated Dibenzo-para-dioxins and Dibenzofurans
*** Source: Adapted from Aylward & Hays (Mar. 21, 2001). Personal Correspondence to Dr. Edo Pellizzari, Editor, Journal of Exposure Analysis and Epidemiology.

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