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Richard Maltby, 01/07/07, Letter to the editor, Saginaw News

Dioxin dangers

Editor, The News:

In view of the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science's recent report, "Health risks from dioxin and related compounds: Evaluation of the EPA reassessment," Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality should adopt the "precautionary principle" as policy in conjunction with the Legislature's "Homeowners Protection Act" (HB 5812). The act by itself will not provide the protection necessary to secure a clean, safe and healthy environment along the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers.

The precautionary principle bridges the gap between science and policy by encouraging policies that protect human health and the environment in the face of uncertain risks.

"Precaution is at the heart of centuries of medical and public health theory and practice," writes professor Joel A. Tickner, a sustainability researcher and editor. "A part of the Hippocratic Oath, 'First do no harm,' underscores a duty to prevent damage to health as well as the concept of primary prevention in public health."

The National Research Council's report says that "2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, also called dioxin, is among the most toxic anthropogenic substances ever identified."

In addition, the research council reports that animal studies have demonstrated potent effects of dioxins and many dioxin-like compounds on tumor development, birth defects, reproductive abnormalities, immune dysfunction, dermatological disorders and a plethora of other adverse effects.

Because of their persistence in the environment and their bioaccumulative potential, dioxins are now ubiquitous pollutants and are detected at low concentrations in virtually all organisms and at higher levels in the food chain, including the human food chain.

Inadvertent exposures of humans through industrial accidents, occupational exposures to commercial compounds and through dietary pathways have led to a wide range of body burdens.

The National Research Council's report speaks for itself: Take precaution against exposure to dioxin.

Richard A. Maltby


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