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Letter to the editor Saginaw News 4/7/04


Editor, The News:

Sunday's articles in The Saginaw News on the topic of dioxins are examples of well-researched and balanced journalism.

As a physician who has practiced for more than 30 years in Saginaw County and as the current medical director for the Saginaw County Department of Public Health, I must commend reporter Jeremiah Stettler and The News for this work dealing with an extremely sensitive and important subject.

That dioxin congeners represent health hazards is a fairly well-accepted fact. The question of threshold at which those effects occur, of what blood (serum) levels of dioxin equate to health risk, and what relationships exist between exposure and absorption of dioxin, remain unanswered definitively.

In its dioxin draft reassessment, the EPA looks at the four elements of risk assessment: Hazard identification, dose-response, exposure assessment, and risk characterization. Each of these elements is fraught with differing opinion and room for interpretive uncertainty, making agreement on the conclusions difficult.

Stettler's articles present this dilemma in easy to read and understand terms, and he and The News deserve commendation.

Neill D. Varner,

medical director

Saginaw County Department of Public Health



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