The issue of dioxin exposure is returning to the public policy agenda as the US Environmental Protection Agency moves towards release of guidelines for maximum human exposure to this family of toxic substances. US EPA has stated that these guidelines will be released before the end of this month.
The US food industry is concerned that the guidelines may have the effect of declaring many foods toxic as a result of the dioxin concentration that they contain and has asked the US Administration to scale back the human exposure guideline. A media article describing the debate is available at http://www.truthabouttrade.org/2012/01/04/industry-wary-of-dioxin-guidelines/
The EPA’s dioxin reassessment has been a long process that is still far from complete. A summary of current activities is available at http://cfpub.epa.gov/ncea/cfm/recordisplay.cfm?deid=209690 and links to the draft dioxin reassessments are available through that page.
In general, dioxin releases are declining but chemicals in this family of persistent bioaccumulative and toxic substances are still ubiquitous in the global environment. Current background levels are likely not causing significant harm, though there is still some concern about the effects of long-term exposure, but we have no practical methods for removing or avoiding those background concentrations. The greater concern relates to enhanced exposure arising from accidental releases and exposure to significantly contaminated sites.
Our monthly Gallon Environment Letter will review this topic further as final EPA reports are released. To subscribe please visit http://www.cialgroup.com/subscription.htm/