EPA Updates Science Assessment for Dioxins

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on February 20, 2012

News release: “…the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized its non-cancer science assessment for dioxins, which was last reviewed in the 1980s. Dioxins are toxic chemicals that naturally exist in the environment and can be released into the environment through forest fires, backyard burning of trash, certain industrial activities, and residue from past commercial burning of waste. Today’s findings show that generally, over a person’s lifetime, current exposure to dioxins does not pose a significant health risk. Over the past two decades EPA has worked to reduce emissions from all of the major industrial sources of dioxins. As a result of efforts by EPA, state governments and industry, known and measurable air emissions of dioxins in the United States have been reduced by 90 percent from 1987 levels. The largest remaining source of dioxin emissions is backyard burning of household trash. Most Americans have low-level exposure to dioxins. Non-cancer effects of exposure to large amounts of dioxin include chloracne, developmental and reproductive effects, damage to the immune system, interference with hormones, skin rashes, skin discoloration, excessive body hair, and possibly mild liver damage.”

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