ARTICLE: US Study shows how to eliminate Dioxin 
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 ARTICLE: US Study shows how to eliminate Dioxin

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[*********PNEWS CONFERENCES************]

Dioxin is dangerous to your health.... -HR-

/* Written by peg:greenleft in */
Title: US study shows how to eliminate dioxin

By Peter Montague

A two-year study of dioxin in the US Great Lakes has concluded
that 86% of dioxin sources could be eliminated without economic
sacrifice, and possibly with economic gains. The study was
conducted by a team of researchers at Queens College in New York,
led by Dr Barry Commoner.

Dioxin has emerged in the past 15 years as one of the two or
three most dangerous chemicals ever tested. Intensive study has
confirmed that dioxin acts as a powerful ``growth dysregulator'',
an ``environmental hormone'' that interferes with normal growth
and development in fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals,
including humans.

Dioxin disrupts the central nervous system, the immune system,
the hormone (endocrine) system and the reproductive system,
preventing normal growth and development of the young and causing
a variety of cancers.


Dioxin is never intentionally manufactured (except for laboratory
purposes), but occurs as an unwanted by-product of many
industrial processes. A recent estimate of annual worldwide
dioxin production (which amounts to 3000 kg per year) indicates
that major sources of dioxin include:

* municipal solid waste incinerators (1130 kg, or 37.6% of world

* cement kilns burning hazardous waste (680 kg, or 23% of total).
Only cement kilns in the US burn hazardous waste, and these
incinerators produce 13 times as much dioxin, per kilogram of
cement manufactured, as cement kilns that do not burn hazardous

* steel smelters (350 kg, 12%);

* cement kilns not burning hazardous waste (320 kg, 11%);

* biomass combustion (350 kg, 12%). This is from forest fires and
commercial and residential wood burning. Trees do not naturally
produce dioxin. But forests may be treated with chlorinated
pesticides, which produce dioxins when burned. Alternatively,
airborne dioxins may settle onto trees and be absorbed into the
leaves and wood; when these later burn, the dioxin may be
released into the atmosphere again. The researchers who developed
these global estimates don't know which explanation is correct.

* medical waste incinerators (84 kg, 2.8%);

* secondary copper smelting (78 kg, 2.6%);

* automobiles burning leaded petrol (11 kg, 0.4%). Cars burning
leaded petrol emit nine times as much dioxin, per litre of fuel,
as cars burning unleaded petrol.

* automobiles burning unleaded petrol (1 kg, 0.03%).

These estimates are subject to large uncertainties because almost
nothing is known about dioxin sources in the former Soviet Union,
China and India. Furthermore, estimates of total dioxin falling
onto the earth's surface worldwide (13,100 kg) are about four
times as large as total estimated worldwide emissions. Thus
no-one is sure where all the world's dioxin is coming from.

One thing is certain: dioxin is not coming from natural sources.
Study of the sediments of lakes has shown that there was very
little dioxin in the environment prior to 1940.

Despite these major uncertainties, dioxin emissions into the
Great Lakes have been studied carefully by Commoner and
associates, who identified 1329 individual sources. Of these, 106
account for 86% of the dioxin entering the Lakes.

The bulk of Commoner's report is an economic analysis of the
feasibility of eliminating the sources of dioxin from medical
waste incinerators, municipal solid waste incinerators, iron ore
sintering plants, paper mills and cement kilns burning hazardous

Prevention or control?

Commoner takes a modern ``pollution prevention'' approach: he
looks for ways to change production processes to avoid the
creation of dioxin. Throughout the study, Commoner discusses the
alternative approach - pollution control - and shows that it
cannot reduce dioxin emissions to zero. Only eliminating the
creation of dioxin by changing production technologies can
achieve zero discharge of dioxins.

Despite prominent use of the term ``pollution prevention'' inside
EPA (where they've even turned it into the buzz word ``P2''),
Commoner shows time after time that EPA and certain of the ``big
10'' environmental groups who are talking about reducing dioxin
emissions under the Clean Air Act of 1990 are all stuck in
old-style ``pollution control'' debates.

(The Clinton Administration and some of its acolytes in the
Washington environmental community revealed their contempt for
real pollution prevention in July when they helped Congress
repeal the Delaney clause. Since 1958, the Delaney clause had
prohibited the addition of known carcinogens to processed foods -
the only US environmental law truly based on prevention. Now the
Delaney prohibition has been repealed, replaced by a risk
assessment process which allows ``safe'' amounts of
cancer-causing chemicals to be added to food. In the unprincipled
world of Washington environmental politics-and-money, this is
being touted as progress.)

At present in Washington, P2 is just so much eyewash.

Commoner, on the other hand, applies the principle of pollution
prevention aggressively, and in novel ways:

* Commoner shows that medical waste incinerators around the Great
Lakes could all be shut down affordably and replaced by
autoclaving (essentially a large pressure cooker that sterilises)
followed by land filling. Autoclaving and land filling are an
affordable, dioxin-free alternative to medical waste

* Commoner shows that all municipal solid waste incinerators
could be closed and replaced by dioxin-free intensive recycling
programs - at a net saving of $536 million each year for Great
Lakes communities.

* Commoner shows that pulp and paper mills could readily shift to
totally chlorine-free technologies, thus completely eliminating
the sources of dioxin in paper mills. Real pollution prevention
is affordable.

* Commoner shows that chlorinated solvents and oils could be
eliminated from iron sintering plants, thus eliminating the
sources of dioxin from these facilities.

* Commoner shows that 75% of all cement is manufactured without
using hazardous waste as a fuel, and that therefore it would be
relatively easy for government to outlaw use of hazardous waste
as a fuel in cement kilns.

Commoner's clear quantitative analysis and low-key advocacy offer
real hope that dioxin could be brought under control nationwide.
Unfortunately, Commoner starts his thinking from a place quite
different from the place where EPA and the big environmental
lobbying groups start their thinking.

Commoner boldly examines the production processes that are
creating dioxin - production processes that are traditionally
considered the exclusive domain of the so-called ``private
sector'' - and suggests how they could be modified to prevent
pollution. (It seems odd that this sector retains the label
``private'' even though its decisions have polluted every square
metre of the planet with powerful poisons.) Until the
environmental community adopts an approach as bold as Commoner's,
talk of P2 will remain nothing more than a cynical cover for
business as usual.
[From Rachel's Environment & Health Weekly.]

Article Unavailable

Mon, 26 Apr 1999 03:00:00 GMT
 ARTICLE: US Study shows how to eliminate Dioxin


> Dioxin has emerged in the past 15 years as one of the two or
> three most dangerous chemicals ever tested....

> Dioxin disrupts the central nervous system, the immune system,
> the hormone (endocrine) system and the reproductive system,
> preventing normal growth and development of the young and causing
> a variety of cancers.

Wrong, on all counts.

In 1984, the American Medical Association released the following statement:

"Except for Chloracne, however, TCDD (the most toxic dioxin component) has
not demonstrated comparable effects in man; that is to say, no long-term
effects on the cardiovascular system and central nervous system, the liver,
the kidney, the thymus and immunologic defenses, or on the reproductive
function-- in the male, female, or offspring have been demonstrated.
     - AMA, Council on Scientific Affairs, 1984, pg. 41

Chloracne is a short-term skin rash which causes no long-term damage, and
appears in humans only at dosage levels several hundred thousand times than
a human can encounter.  Except, of course, for the case of Seveso, Italy,
which due to a factory explosion July 10, 1976, dosed several thousand
townspeople with 1 to 4 pounds of dioxon (contrast this to levels of 1
part/billion that environmentalists claim is dangerous)     An Italian
medical group performed a study of the effects on the local populace.
Their conclusion:

"The study failed to disclose any gross developmental abnormalities."
     - Pierpallo Mastroiacovo et al.  "Birth Defects in the Seveso Area
after TCDD Contamination", JAMA vol. 259, Nol 11.

Another Italian study, done to determine possible damage to offspring

"No chromosomal damage or other long-term effects were found."
     - M. L. Tenchini et al, "Preliminary Cytogenetic Findings in
TCDD-Exposed Subjects after the Seveso Accident".  Berg, K. ed., "Genetic
Damage in Man Caused by Environmental Agents", Acedemic Press 1979.

A 1986 study in JAMA published the results of more than 4500 laboratory
tests on 1500 Seveso-area children aged six to ten.  Diferences were found
in only two of 136 categories (neither representing disease manifestations)
and concluded the test differences were slight and disapeared with time.

I would like to note that, after the news media began telling local women
their fetuses would be born deformed, many women in Seveso began aborting
their children.

A study published in the June 1989 issue of American Journal of
Epidemiology reported on the correlation between Seveso-area residents and
the incidence of cancer.  They found a correlation coefficient of less than
1.0, meaning that, as a group, the residents had a slightly smaller risk of
cancer than the population at large.

In fact, the only study to ever show a positive correlation between dioxin
exposure and human cancer rates was the Feb 1991 OSHA report of plant
workers in herbicide factories.   They found no  correlation for workers
exposed for less than one year, or to low or moderate dioxin amounts.  For
workers exposed to high levels of dioxin, they found a small but
significant increase in lung cancer rates.   However, the the OSHA study is
generally considered suspect had improperly classified a significant number
of study members as nonsmokers.   Even if the OSHA study is taken at face
value, the exposure levels required would only apply to workers at
dioxin-producing factories.

After pressure from environmental groups, the EPA conducted two studies on
whether dioxin would cause spontaneous {*filter*}s in human women.  The
first, ALSEA I was abandoned for lack of evidence.  The second, ALSEA II,
has been called the 'fastest epidemiological study ever performed."   It
found a "significant correlation between the amounts of 2,4,5-T (dioxin)
used in the study area and the subsequent increase in the spontaneous
{*filter*} index."   However, the ALSEA II study was based in a rural area
with poor healthcare, and used two urban areas as control groups.   Six
Oregon State scientists were the first to discredit the ALSEA II study,
citing incomplete data, failuare to account for differences in medical
practices, and improper data collection."  Their result on the same data
was that no correlation existed.

The Love C{*filter*}incident, in which up to $55 million was spent to relocate
resident and clean up the site, was based in a study by Paigen & Picciano
in which  they claimed dioxin could cause nerve damage and other disorders.
  However, Paigen was neither a medical doctor nor an epidimiologist, but
working on behalf of the Love C{*filter*}Homeowners Association, a group that
benefitted tremendously from the resultant action.  A Governers Board
inquiry into her study, headed by Dr. Lewis Thomas, chancellor of the
Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, stated:

"[her report] falls far short of the mark as an exercise in
epidemiology...her data cannot be taken as scientific evidence.  The study
is based on anecdotal information provided by questionaires submitted to a
specially selected group of residents.  There are no control groups, and
the ilnesses cited were not medically validated."

Paigen herself admitted, in a New York Times interview, that her work as
"not an epidemiological study but a report of some unusual finding I came
across in other research".

The New York State Department performed its own study on Love Canal.  State
Commissioner of Health David Axelrod released the report:

"{*filter*} testing, which was designed to screen for liver and kidney
abnormalities, leukemia, and other {*filter*} diseases, showed no pattern of
excess abnormality.  [computer analysis of test data] produced no unusual
patterns of illness or other disorders.  Cancer incidence was within normal
limits.   Efforts to establish a correlation between adverse pregnancy
outcomes and evidence of chemical exposures have proven negative."

Another study by the New York Cancer Registry was released in 1981 in
Science Magazine.   It showed "no evidence for higher cancer rates near the
Love C{*filter*}site."

An EPA review panel investigating the original Paigen-Picciano came across
some interesting information.  Steven Gage, assistant administrator for R&D
at the EPA stated: "This was no small fishing expedition.  The Justice
Department asked us to undertake [the original study] in connection with
our suit against {*filter*}.   {*filter*} is the landowner who originally sold the
Love C{*filter*}property to the city.   The EPA review panel concluded that the
Love Canel residents had not experienced any chromosomal damage, and that
all incidents of cancer and disease were within normal expectation values.

* * *

I have the results of several dozen other studies, all from highly
respected organizations like the one above.  To offset your charge of
"corporate shilling" I have specifically excluded all studies by
corporations.  Their results were the same as those above.

To this day, not a single death has ever been attributed to dioxin.   Why
then, Scott, do you consider it such a dangerous chemical?   Several people
die each year from water poisoning (not drowning, but from fatal levels of
water in the {*filter*}stream), while no one has ever died from dioxin.  I
suppose if someone were to voluntarily eat purified dioxin (if one could
find it) at some point the exercise might prove fatal.  I don't see that
this has any relevance to the discussion at hand.

What say you?

Mike Asher

"Did I do that?  I don't remember doing that."
     - Picciano, laughing, when confronted with a charge of removing
abberations from his control group."     (Kolata "Love Canal", op. cit. pg

Tue, 27 Apr 1999 03:00:00 GMT
 [ 2 post ] 

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