Toxic Equivalents, or TEQs, are used to report the toxicity-weighted masses of mixtures of dioxins. The TEQ method of dioxin reporting is more meaningful than simply reporting the total number of grams of a mixture of variously toxic compounds because the TEQ method offers toxicity information about the mixture.

Within the TEQ method, each dioxin compound is assigned a Toxic Equivalency Factor, or TEF (see the table below). This factor denotes a given dioxin compound's toxicity relative to 2,3,7,8-TCDD, which is assigned the maximum toxicity designation of one. Other dioxin compounds are given equal or lower numbers, with each number roughly proportional to its toxicity relative to that of 2,3,7,8-TCDD. Developed by the World Health Organization, TEFs are used extensively by scientists and governments around the world (Van den Berg, et al., 1998). The EPA uses units of grams-TEQ to report emissions of dioxins from known sources to the open environment in its Inventory of Sources of Dioxin in the United States.

To obtain the number of grams-TEQ of a dioxin mixture, one simply multiplies the mass of each compound in the mixture by its TEF and then totals them.

Dioxins*
Toxic Equivalency Factor (TEF)**
2,3,7,8-TCDD
1
1,2,3,7,8-PnCDD
1
1,2,3,4,7,8-HxCDD
0.1
1,2,3,6,7,8-HxCDD
0.1
1,2,3,7,8,9-HxCDD
0.1
1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDD
0.01
OCDD
0.0001
2,3,7,8-TCDF
0.1
1,2,3,7,8-PnCDF
0.05
2,3,4,7,8-PnCDF
0.5
1,2,3,4,7,8-HxCDF
0.1
1,2,3,6,7,8-HxCDF
0.1
1,2,3,7,8,9-HxCDF
0.1
2,3,4,6,7,8-HxCDF
0.1
1,2,3,4,6,7,8-HpCDF
0.01
1,2,3,4,7,8,9-HpCDF
0.01
OCDF
0.0001

 

* The term "Dioxins" here refers to 7 dioxin and 10 furan chemical compounds.
**
Developed by the World Health Organization [Van den Berg, et al. (1998). Toxic Equivalency Factors (TEFs) for PCBs, PCDDs, PCDFs for Humans and for Wildlife. Environmental Health Perspectives 106, 775.]

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