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Richard Maltby, response to SN 1/27/06 letter to the editor

Regarding Dow's toxic pollution situation, James J. Collins, director of epidemiology for the Dow Chemical Company, responded to my letter "Dioxin dangers" (The Saginaw News), concerning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's "Health Assessment Document for 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-Dioxin (TCDD) and Related Compounds."

The EPA reported that TCDD increases cancer mortality of several types. Collins said, "The National Academy of Sciences is completing a critical review of the draft EPA document and is expected to release a report this year," implying that it was too early to report on EPA's health assessment document.

He said I failed to "address the important issue of relative levels of dioxin exposure. While studies of humans have provided inconsistent evidence on nearly all health effects of potential concern, the one thing these studies all have in common is that they focus on people who have had substantial exposure in dioxins through direct contact with chemical products in a manufacturing or occupational environment or after catastrophic accidents in which large quantities of dioxins were released."

Precisely! Doesn't the Saginaw Valley have one of highest levels of dioxins and furans in the state? Furthermore, what Collins failed to say, without the EPA's 1994 documentation of health effects of TCDD and the International Agency for Research on Cancer's 1997 classification of TCDD as a "known human carcinogen," little would be known today about the increases in cancer mortality of several types.

So, why wait for the National Academy of Sciences before taking action to protect the people from adverse health effects of dioxin exposure?

Richard A. Maltby


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