Tittabawassee River Watch Editorial          Back to editorial page  

WB01727_.gif (697 bytes)

Richard Maltby, 03/17/06, Editorial to TRW

March 17, 2006 Richard A. Maltby

5312 Swede Ave.

Midland, MI 48642

(989) 631-0805


To: Tittabawassee River Watch

Subject: Dioxin Health Risks

Author: Richard A. Maltby

* * *

Regarding the dioxin issue facing the Saginaw Valley, two resident groups – Midland Matters and Tittabawassee River Voice – have voiced their opinions to Governor Granholm concerning the labeling of homeowner properties as a facility, the health risk associated with dioxin exposure, and the use of science for establishing public policy. Both groups advocate opposing the labeling of homeowner properties as a facility and disregarding the potential health risks of dioxin exposure.

In response, I would like to convey to Tittabawassee River Watch News readers the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s reporting of the health and safety effects of the chemical by-product, 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) and related compounds. For the sake of the people’s health, EPA’s message should be taken seriously:

Regarding cancer effects, EPA has reported that animal bioassay data provide substantial presumptive evidence of the human carcinogenicity of TCDD. Target organs include the liver, thyroid, lung, skin, and soft tissues. The overall weight of evidence from epidemiologic studies suggests that the risk of cancer is more than likely due to exposure to TCDD.

Human exposure to TCDD also has been associated with noncancer effects. The majority of effects have been reported among occupational exposed groups, such as chemical production workers, pesticide users, and individuals who handled or were exposed to materials treated with TCDD-contaminated pesticides, and among residents of communities contaminated with waste oil and industrial effluent (i.e., chemical waste discharges). Information describing human effects attributed to exposure to TCDD-contaminated materials was derived from a wide variety of sources, including clinical assessments of exposed individuals and analytic epidemiological studies.

Regarding noncancerous effects, the most widely recognized dermal effect of exposure to TCDD-contaminated substances is chloracne. Dermal effects other than chloracne attributed to TCDD exposure include a variety of symptoms and conditions (i.e., red and irritated eyes, conjunctivitis, blepharitis or inflammation of the eyelids, eyelid cysts, hypertrichosis or abnormal distribution of hair, and Peyronie’s disease or scarring of the penile membrane).

Other noncancerous effects include hepatic effects or changes in liver function and structure, increased liver size, changes in hepatic enzyme levels, increased levels of liver regeneration, liver cell damage, urinary excretion problems, elevated triglyceride or cholesterol levels, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, immunologic effects, neurologic effects, circulatory or cardiovascular system effects, pulmonary effects, renal or bladder dysfunction, and reproductive effects.

The noncancerous effects having a positive relationship with exposure to TCDD include chloracne, effect on gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT) levels, diabetes and effect on fasting serum glucose levels and reproductive hormones.

Possible acute effects of human exposure to TCDD include dermatologic conditions other than chloracne, effect on liver enzymes other than GGT and hepatomegaly, pulmonary disorders, neurologic disorders, and porhyrias.

EPA reports that other effects for which further research is needed include diseases of the circulatory system, reproductive effects, specific reproductive end points (i.e., spontaneous abortions, congenital malformations, and “miscellaneous” end points), immunologic effects, lipids, and thyroid function.

In view of EPA’s reporting of the results of the human health assessment for TCDD and related compounds, it was wise for Governor Granholm to hold fast with her decision to cleanup the dioxin contamination in the Saginaw Valley. I trust that she will continue to use sound science to accomplish that task.

Back to editorial page