From Maureen Corser Saginaw County League of Women Voters
League of Women Voters of Saginaw County, Michigan
Dioxin is a highly toxic substance formed as an accidental by-product in
numerous industrial processes involving chlorine. Dioxin is a by-product of
waste incineration, chemical and plastics manufacturing, paper and pulp
bleaching, and burning hazardous wastes in waste to energy facilities. It
persists in the environment, food chain, and in our bodies, and can pass
from mother to child through the placenta and via motherís milk.
The creation of dioxin is an avoidable hazard contributing to numerous
adverse health effects such as cancer, hormonal disruption, infertility,
impaired child development, suppression of the immune system, endometriosis
and diabetes. Children bear the highest exposures, and current levels of
dioxin in the bodies of the general population are already in the range at
which health effects are known to occur in laboratory animals, according to
the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Soil sampling conducted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
(MDEQ) has indicated that floodplain soil in the Tittabawassee River
watershed near and upstream of the confluence of the Tittabawassee and
Saginaw Rivers is contaminated with dioxin at concentrations exceeding the
Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) action level of one
ppb, and at some sites, eighty times the MDEQ residential cleanup standards.
The League of Women Voters Saginaw County affirms the right of citizens to
have an active, meaningful and participatory voice in the activities
affecting their government, lives, health, property and well-being. In
addition the League of Women Voters of Saginaw County views citizen advocacy
groups as a vital component of a healthy democracy.
The League of Women Voters supports the preservation of the physical,
chemical and biological integrity of the ecosystem and maximum protection of
public health and the environment. Standards must be enforced in a timely,
consistent, and equitable manner for all violators. Environmental
protection and pollution control should be considered a cost of providing
products and services.
In view of these positions, the League of Women Voters of Saginaw County
supports the Lone Tree Council and the Tittabawassee River Watch in their
collective efforts to address this extensive watershed contamination. The
League supports efforts by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality
to use scientific methods to ascertain the extent and sources of the dioxin
contamination, to hold community meetings to educate the public, and to
create a Community Advisory Panel of all stakeholders.
The League of Women Voters of Saginaw County supports the Michigan
Department of Community Health and Michigan Department of Agriculture in
taking action to minimize human and wildlife exposure to present and future
sources of floodplain dioxin contamination.