Dioxins are everywhere in small doses. They are in the air, water and land. The EPA began studying dioxin over 15 years ago, however they never really finished the study. Now under Lisa Jackson, the EPA has sent out a draft for peer review. The goal is to be done by the end of the year. The report should be scientifically based and not politically based, as many people believe it has been in the past.
Currently dioxin rates are at 1,000 parts per trillion residential and between 5,000-20,000 parts per trillion for commercial and industrial soil. New EPA remediation goals proposed for soil are 72 parts per trillion of dioxin for residential land use and 950 parts per trillion for commercial and industrial land uses.
The EPA findings indicate that dioxin may cause a large number of adverse health problems, including cancer and reproductive problems. Dioxin is also linked to immune system problems leading to susceptibility to infectious diseases. Dioxin disrupts the function of regulatory hormones, leading to infertility, birth defects, impaired child development, diabetes and thyroid changes. In the body, dioxin damages the immune system, decreases testis size, and alters glucose tolerance. Dioxin is linked to endometriosis and decreased sperm count.
Instead of breaking down in the environment, dioxin bioaccumulates. In the body, continual low level exposure will build up over years until small adverse health effects begin to occur. Dioxin attaches to sites used by hormones and enzymes, preventing cells from completing their normal functions. Most of the dioxin in the human body comes by consumption of grazing animals exposed to dioxin emissions in the soil, water, and plant surfaces. People ingest dioxin through meat, dairy, fish and eggs.
Dioxin is the common name for a family of toxic chemicals including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polychlorinated dibenzo dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzo furans (PCDFs). PCBs were commercially produced until 1977 when they were banned. PCDDs and PCDFs are unintentional byproducts of combustion and industrial chemical processes.
Dioxins are in the Maumee River and Lake Erie. Once the study is made public, we will be able to see the levels of dioxin in our area. Hopefully by lowering the safe rate of dioxin to 950 ppt, polluters will be forced meet these levels and clean up sites that currently are over this limit.