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Michelle Hurd Riddick, 02/01/06, reader opinion to SN article 01/26/06

Whose dioxin perspective?
Wednesday, February 01, 2006 Editor, The News:

In "Dioxin exposure in perspective" (Letters, Jan. 29), Dow's Dr. James Collins is, in reality, asking us to put it in the perspective of the polluter, whose whole approach is to convince the public that dioxin is not a problem.

Collins' assertion that disagreements are delaying the release of the Dioxin Reassessment isn't the whole story. The disagreements are the result of successful lobbying by industry against its release and the political appointment of industry paid scientists to various committees whose objective is to keep it in limbo. Consensus in the worldwide independent scientific community is that dioxin is toxic and has a wide variety of health effects. Those in disagreement tend to be industry representatives such as Collins.

In a May 5, 2004, memo to state Department of Environmental Quality, the EPA stated, "11 peer reviews have not changed the basic conclusion that dioxin is more toxic than previously thought." The EPA's release of the dioxin reassessment would put in place standards more protective of public health that could cost industry money.

Dow Chemical touts its workers study but fails to tell the public it filed an amended report in 1999, which showed after 15 years Dow workers had an increase in stomach and prostate cancer. Dioxin's most vulnerable populations, pregnant women, their developing babies and children are not included in any Dow study. Yet from Dow's perspective we shouldn't worry because its male workers study is a reliable surrogate.

Collins uses aspirin to make his argument that the dose makes the poison. EPA studies do address dose response. The conclusions are that body concentrations of dioxin are at or near levels where health effects can occur. Something industry will debate and doesn't want released.

Dow engages the public by manufacturing uncertainty and denying the toxicity of dioxin. It's part of its public relations. But there is no public interest in Dow's public relations. Dioxin is one of 12 chemicals agreed upon at the worldwide Stockholm Convention as toxic to humans and wildlife.

Dow's public position on dioxin requires us to accept that it's OK for children and families to live lifetimes in high levels of dioxin in the floodplain. It requires us to accept that it's OK for Dow to poison thousands of acres, an entire wildlife population and 50 miles of river which threaten to contaminate Lake Huron.

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council

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