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Medicine Earth Science

Infants Ingest 77 Times the Safe Level of Dioxin 343

An anonymous reader writes "The Environmental Protection Agency is holding public hearings beginning today to review a proposed safe exposure limit for dioxin, a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor produced as a common industrial byproduct. It's all but impossible to avoid exposure to dioxin. Women exposed to it pass it on to fetuses in the womb, and both breast milk and formula have been shown to contain the stuff. Research done by the Environmental Working Group has shown that a nursing infant ingests an amount 77 times higher than what the EPA has proposed as safe exposure. Adults are exposed to 1,200 times more dioxin than the EPA suggests is safe, mostly through eating meat, dairy, and shellfish."
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Infants Ingest 77 Times the Safe Level of Dioxin

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  • White Cardboard. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by stimpleton ( 732392 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:30PM (#32894946)
    About 10 years ago, in my country(outside the US), they found the greatest levels came from the insides of milk containers(the cardboard ones). For consumer perception reasons, the inside should be snow white, not brown. The whitening process was a bleach based one and the chemical contained dioxin. Apparently, a chlorine based oxidation whitening method is safe. But of course, more costly. How are your cardboard products whitened? Don't assume in this day and age its the safe method.
  • Re:so..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ironsides ( 739422 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @09:58PM (#32895108) Homepage Journal

    Maybe the solution is to simply make the US year 310 days long so we can live as many years as they do in other countries. That seems more reasonable than trying to lower environmental dioxin levels, after all. God forbid we should have to examine the consequences of our desire for cheap consumer goods.

    US life expectancy is 78.2 years. You're saying other countries life expectancy is 92 years? I think you're off by a bit. Japan, with the highest life expectancy in the world, is at 82.6 years. The UK is at 79.4 years. It's also interesting you vilify "cheap consumer goods". I didn't realize Herbicide was or was used to make consumer goods. Perhaps you should take a second look at the sources of dioxin?

  • Re:White Cardboard. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:11PM (#32895176) Journal
    "Bleach" is usually Sodium Hypochlorite, in water solution. Historically, both Sodium Hypochlorite and elemental Chlorine, among others, would have been used at various stages of the pulp bleaching process. Unfortunately, a number of organochlorine compounds are pretty nasty customers(dioxins hog the stage time; but furans, PCBs, and others are also not exactly tasty treats), and using Chlorine to attack wood pulp, full of various organic compounds, produces nice white wood pulp, and a bunch of organochlorine compounds(even if the cardboard isn't going into food packaging, these tend to end up going more or less straight into the river).

    The almost-as-cheap-and-somewhat-less-dangerous method substitutes chlorine dioxide for straight chlorine. Apparently, this reduces the amount of exciting organochlorines in the result.

    The more costly; but chlorine free, technique involves Ozone(the same applies in water treatment plants). The nice thing about Ozone is that it is pretty close to Chlorine in terms of being a vociferous oxidizing and bleaching agent that is soluble in water; but that it consists entirely of oxygen atoms, and is fairly unstable. This means that you can have a ghastly disinfecting or bleaching agent that, after 24-48 hours of sitting around, is pretty much just plain water with dissolved oxygen.

    The chlorine-free methods are particularly popular in Europe, and they've reduced the output of Chlorinated nasties pretty much everywhere; but the odds are still pretty good that, unless specifically stated otherwise and in the EU, your white paper is white because of a chlorine process.
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @10:44PM (#32895372)

    "Nine animal studies conducted between 1973 and 2008 show that dioxin is harmful at levels even lower than in the human studies on which EPA based its proposal.

    I have to think there were a helluva lot more than 9 studies on the toxicity of dioxin done between 1973-2008, especially in the aftermath of the Times Beach fiasco [wikipedia.org]. That makes me suspect those 9 studies were cherry-picked because they got the results the site wanted. Does someone know of a metastudy which collates the results of all dioxin studies over a give time period?

  • Re:Great (Score:3, Interesting)

    by russotto ( 537200 ) on Tuesday July 13, 2010 @11:08PM (#32895536) Journal

    Two, it informs environmental regulations related to the discharge of the chemicals in question. Dioxins are only "unavoidable" today because their release has historically been alarmingly close to unregulated, and they are fairly persistent little critters. If the safe exposure limit is revised downward, acceptable release limits will(again, possibly with substantial lag, nobody wants to make the American Chemistry Council cry) will be revised downward, so that, as the compounds eventually are degraded or encapsulated, exposures will fall.

    Exposures will fall in the US... along with a few remains of the manufacturing sector, which will pack up and move to China where they can actually make their stuff.

  • Re:so..... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by coredog64 ( 1001648 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @04:08AM (#32896908)

    I'd have to dig to find the links, so I'll throw this out knowing that some snarky SOB will just reply with "[Citation needed]"

    Sweden didn't always have cradle-to-grave health insurance. In fact, they only got it some years after the US instituted Medicare/Medicaid.
    The longevity delta from that point in history to today is (IIRC) within one month: Swedes lived longer before social medicine, and they live longer now too.

    I would also note that it's asinine to point to "every other first world country" as if they all hew to the same social medicine model. You've got full on single payer,
    nationalized health industries, price controlled private insurance, and nationalized health-insurance with public and private providers.*

    For extra credit, please compare cohorts sharing a national origin: If the US system is so shitty, why do Americans of Japanese descent live to to the same age as Japanese living in Japan? You could also compare Scandinavians in the north central US to those in Europe. One dollar will get you ten that there's not a significant difference in longevity.

    *I'm thinking of France, but maybe that's not the best way to describe it: They pay a significant tax that is what I would consider premiums, and then they
    get reimbursed at some percentage of the government mandated charge for services performed.

  • by thejynxed ( 831517 ) on Wednesday July 14, 2010 @07:44AM (#32897930) Homepage

    Of course it's worthy. Go ask anyone in Vietnam about how safe dioxin exposure is to humans.

    Seriously, they had an entire program on PBS dedicated to Dioxins and the role the American chemical industry had in their proliferation. It's also interesting to note, that there are several former Agent Orange production sites in Tennessee and Kentucky that their former/current owners refuse to clean up (Monsanto and a few others). Instead they leveled the buildings, piled more dirt on top of the affected areas, then turned them into parking lots for the remaining parts of the facilities still in use.

    They also showed the staggering cancer rate and birth defect rates (serious physical and mental deformities) in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, as well as taking current Dioxin measurements of the soil, air, and human blood samples - that showed exposure levels far greater than what the EPA is finding here, and this is 30-40+ years later.

    Oh, by the way, Agent Orange is still in production and wide use today, it just isn't called Agent Orange any longer, and has a slightly improved formula. Many people spray it on their lawns or sidewalks to get rid of those pesky dandelions, etc. The companies manufacturing it just came up with new names to disguise what it actually is - don't want the negative impact from the "Agent Orange" moniker of course.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky