Congress asks EPA for timeline on dioxin report
By Eartha Jane Melzer , The Michigan Messenger
04.13.11 | 12:50 pm
Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and 72 other members of Congress are asking the U.S. Environmental Agency to finish its long-delayed report on the toxicity of dioxin — a byproduct of combustion and of chemical manufacturing that has contaminated Michigan’s largest watershed.
“Almost 40 years ago we called a code red on Agent Orange and dioxin. Despite worldwide agreement about the toxicity of these chemicals and their persistence in the environment, EPA still has yet to release its findings on how dangerous these chemicals are to public health,” Rep. Markey said in a statement. “This much-needed assessment should not languish at the EPA as long as this dangerous chemical lasts in our food chain. The EPA should release its report without further delay.”
In an April 11 letter to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson the representatives asked the agency to provide a detailed timeline for finalizing and releasing the dioxin reassessment.
Dioxin is one of the most toxic substances known and causes immune system and reproductive problems at extremely small doses. It is also a known carcinogen.
Operations at Dow Chemical’s Midland complex have spread high levels of dioxin and other chemicals through the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and into Lake Huron’s Saginaw Bay and regular flooding has deposited dioxin-laden sediments at homes, schools, parks and farms throughout the floodplain.
In May 2009 newly-appointed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson called Dow Chemical’s contamination of the Saginaw River watershed a threat to public health and promised to kick start the agency’s long-delayed efforts to regulate dioxin.
The agency promised to finalize its reassessment of the toxicity of dioxin by the end of 2010 but missed that deadline amid pressure from the chemical industry.
As residents our health and well being has been ignored. The EPA is in Dows
back pocket just like all the rest of our local politicians. The congressman can
ask but I don't think he will ever get a truthful answer. Granholm is the
perfect example. She sold us out for a job on the board at Dow.
Neill D varner
The toxic potential of the dioxin family ( particularly the TCDD
congener) has been recognized ever since 1952 when a Monsanto research scientist
alerted the Federal Government of a toxic chemical which appeared in the
antecedent herbicides ( 2,4-D and others) which was subsequently identified as a
TCDD.....In spite of the 10 year lag betwen this disco very and it use in
Vietnam, the feds CONTRACTED with Monsanto AND DOW and others to provide
millions of barrels of Agent Orange for use as a defoliant.....with the goal of
complete deforestation of Vietnam......STudies on this family of chemicals have
been ongoing since then...and, the US Military added its won 35+ year
Prospective look at healthe effects from exposures in its Ranch Hand II study.
concluded ( I think) in 2006...A book summarizing those then known health
effects has beed published but the complete data from all the years has yet to
be finalized and released. Other wise unexplained ischemic heart disease has
recently been added to the list of health effects.....the 1994 REASSESSMENT of
risk was done at the request of the public represented by environmental groups ,
long concerned over the potentially harmful effects of dioxins in the food chain
and rthe environment....Controversy over Scientific Advisory Board membership
and its affiliation with various industrial companies delayed the Reassessment
and vituperative debate ensued.....thousands of pages of inconsistent and
contradictory science confounded and obfuscated the findings.....In a World
Conference held in Berlin a few years ago, over 600 papers on the topic of
organochlorines and persistent organic pollutants, of which dioxins dominate,
were presen ted.....more debate...more uncertainty....finally the National
Academy of Science was asked to evauate and comment on the 1994 Draft
Reassessment...It did and its own report has been subject to interpretation that
differs from one group to the next.......Meanwhile, the German Versorgeprinzip,
useful to the Eurpoean community concerned about the effects of global warming
in the North Sea, was resurrected and called The Precautionary Principle in the
1992 World Conference on the Environment in Rio de Janeiro.....Inherent in its
application is the lttle known fact that such ap[plication must include a
benefit to cost analysis which is a root cause for fuerther delay, particularly
in remediation efforts...research done over the 30+ most recent years has shown
that environmental dioxin levels and serum levels in peopple have been and
continue to drop drastically...What is unknown , however, is just how low a
level , IF ANY , can be considered safe and acceptable......Carcinogenic risk
has been , itself, reassessed and an increase of 1 in 10,000 ( some advocate for
1 in 1000) cases has been considered acceptable....that is NOT ...0 risk and
does little to assure that 1 extra case's family but nevertheless is considered
by our government as still acceptable......and, so......deliberations have
continued and the release of the final draft of the US EPA Dioxin Draft
Reassessment languishes..............Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber have
written a small paperback...comic-book style TRUST US , WE'RE THE EXPERTS in
which all research is criticized when the researchers have known connections to
chemical industries......sides are taken...lines are drawn and debate
continues....the reassessment in its current form is over 2000 pages long and
remains subject to interpretation....so, while a "final" report may be desirable
to the members of congress who are requesting one, I doubt if any ONE of those
members will be able to understand it when it comes or agree on its implications
any more tha our government did in 1952 when first alerted ...............
For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawassee River Watch web site www.trwnews.net for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga. . The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The source organization's web site link is listed to the right of the article, visit often for other news in our area. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.