Rep. Markey commends EPA action
 The State Column | Monday, February 20, 2012

Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, today praised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announcement that the non-cancer health assessment of dioxin has been finalized after two decades of delays. Dioxin is the name given to a group of toxic chemicals that are released as a byproduct of industrial processes and have the ability to accumulate in the food chain and remain in the environment for years. Exposure to dioxin causes a wide range of health impacts and has been associated with delays in motor skills and neurodevelopment in children, as well as impacts on hormones that regulate growth, metabolism and reproduction. Dioxin also has been classified as a human carcinogen by the World Health Organization and the National Toxicology Program. The American Chemistry Council, whose member companies could be impacted by any limits on dioxin releases into the environment, had pressured the EPA to delay release of the reassessment and recommended unnecessary additional reviews.

“Today, the Environmental Protection Agency has taken a major step toward protecting the public from dioxin by shining light on some of the health impacts this dangerous chemical has on the public,” said Rep. Markey. “By releasing this important part of the scientific assessment, we can begin to develop a cohesive plan to safeguard American families from dioxin exposure. It is also time for industry groups and chemical companies to stop their efforts to block completion of this important public health document. I urge EPA to continue this progress forward by moving quickly to finalize the cancer portion of the dioxin assessment as well as its cleanup goals for soil at waste sites containing dioxin.”

The EPA completed its first health assessment of dioxin in 1985, finding that the cancer risk to humans from dioxin exposure is by far the highest defined for any man-made chemical. This finding was challenged by the industries whose operations would be affected by any limits on dioxin releases into the environment. EPA subsequently began a review of the health impacts of dioxins that has been in process for more than 20 years. The Agency split the assessment into two portions covering the non-cancer impacts and cancer impacts and today released the non-cancer portion of the assessment with a commitment to release of the cancer portion “as expeditiously as possible.”

The EPA’s most recent Toxicity Release Inventory (TRI) indicates that dioxin releases rose by 18 percent from 2009 to 2010. Dioxin air releases alone increased ten percent during this time period.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, dioxins are present in the blood of 95 percent of Americans. Dioxin has also been found in breast milk and in blood samples taken from newborns. Because of the persistence of dioxin, it has been targeted for international phase-out by a treaty signed by 170 nations across the world.

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