Lone Tree Council and TRW

Dioxin Update

October 24th , 2004 # 25


Next meeting is Monday October 25th at 6:30pm at the Thomas Twp Library

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You may have read in the Midland Daily News and Saginaw News that the results of the Michigan Department of Community Health Pilot Exposure Investigation are coming back. The results of several residents living along the Tittabawassee River show they are well above the 16 ppt reference range established at the International Dioxin Conference. These are real people living 24-7 in yards contaminated with Dow's dioxin. It's not just their yards, or our public parks or our rivers or our wildgame...........Results on dioxin levels in people's homes, in their living areas have come back as high as a 110. THESE NUMBERS ARE HIGHER THAN THE STATES RESIDENTIAL CONTACT CRITERIA OF 90PPT. Would you let your child, your toddlers crawl on those floors? Of course not. Wouldn't you look at your home differently?


According to The EPA there appears to be no level of dioxin below which the immune system is not affected. Sometimes the immune system is suppressed other times it becomes highly excited making people hypersensitive.

Multiple effects

Linda Birnbaum, director of research at the US EPA Health Effects Laboratory in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, was the leader of an EPA scientific team reassessing dioxin. She says, "Dioxin appears to be a carcinogen in fish, rodents and other mammals, including humans. But dioxin can also modulate [modify] the immune system, resulting in an inability to fight disease. It is a very powerful immunosuppressant. But it can also upregulate [excite] the immune system so that you start becoming hypersensitive, developing autoimmunity and allergies."
Birnbaum goes on to describe Taiwanese children, exposed to dioxin-like chemicals, who had unusually frequent respiratory infections and ear infections. Further, she described an Inuit population in Quebec with elevated levels of dioxin in their bodies from eating the fat of marine mammals (seals); their children have "very high incidences of respiratory infections and otitis [ear infections], and also a very decreased take of vaccinations", Birnbaum says. Vaccinations don't work well in these children, perhaps because their immune systems have been damaged.
Birnbaum says there is no threshold for immunotoxic responses to dioxin; in other words, there is no level of dioxin below which the immune system is not affected.

From Dr. Peter Montague

The immune system is a complex set of specialized cells and organs that defends the body against attack. When it functions properly, the immune system fights off diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites and cancer cells. "When it malfunctions, however, it can unleash a torrent of diseases, from allergy to arthritis to cancer to AIDS", according to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).
At the heart of the immune system is the ability to distinguish between self and non-self. A healthy immune system protects the "self" and attacks only the "non-self". Virtually every cell in your body carries distinctive molecules that identify it as self. Cells lacking a "self" marker are quickly perceived as "foreign", attacked and eliminated by the immune system.
The immune system can fail in two ways: if it is damaged, it can fail to attack foreign invaders, and can thus allow infections or cancers to develop. On the other hand, if the immune system fails to distinguish self from non-self, it can overreact and attack the self, causing "autoimmune" diseases such as arthritis, asthma, lupus and Type I diabetes (insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus).
The US Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) 1994 draft reassessment of dioxin emphasised that dioxin damages the immune system directly and indirectly. From studies of rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, cattle, marmosets, monkeys and humans, EPA concludes that even low doses of dioxin attack the immune system.
Dioxin directly reduces the number of B cells (immune cells that develop in the bone marrow, then circulate throughout the blood and lymph, fighting off invaders). And it reduces the number of T cells (immune cells that develop in the thymus), but dioxin's attack on T cells seems to be indirect.
EPA goes on to say, "... if an acute exposure to TCDD [dioxin] even temporarily raises the TCDD body burden at the time when an immune response is initiated, there may be a risk of adverse impacts even though the total body burden may indicate a relatively low average TCDD level". In other words, a single dose of dioxin at the wrong time may damage your immune system's ability to protect you.
Furthermore, dioxin can prevent the immune system from developing properly in an unborn child, with lifelong consequences, EPA believes. "Animal studies suggest that some immunotoxic responses may be evoked at very low levels of dioxin exposure", EPA says.


Which disease manifests itself as a result of dioxin exposure is most difficult to tease out. How does immune suppression manifest in anyone person? The preponderance of independent scientific study supports the toxicity of dioxin. For some people the inability to look under a microscope and view a big D (for dioxin) in diseased people or tissue is reason enough to dismiss this issue, study this issue to death, delay public education, avoid cleanup, attack individuals as irrational, property owners as greedy, state toxicologist as inept or give Dow a free pass. The reality is that people are being denied the enjoyment, safety and security of their homes and lives because of this contamination. Hunters and fishermen are having their sport compromised and economic opportunities are lost.

Dow Chemical of course blows these levels off expecting the public to accept their serum dioxin as a normal benign part of life. Dow's reflex response to dioxin body burdens is always about diet being the most significant source of dioxin. Food is a huge source but for Dow it serves as deflection from the real issue for people living on the floodplain and that is their additional exposure and risk due to soil concentrations of dioxin in their immediate environment. In a detailed discussion of dietary dioxin sources the logical question is ------------- how did it get in our food? Industry of course! But you won't hear Dow inviting that discussion any time soon. These blood and dust samples are one more incident where we are seeing that dioxin in soils and sediments DOES translate to dioxin in fish, eggs, deer, turkey, squirrel, duck eggs and now PEOPLE.



The end of this month is the deadline established by the state to enter into an agreement with Dow over what the next steps are regarding the City of Midland and the Tittabawassee River. As you will recall these discussions went behind closed doors for thirty days in June. Dow has a legal and statutory obligation to address this contamination............................we anxiously await the outcome.


Mike Kelly of the Watershed Initiative Network (WIN) informs us that his activities and timeline for the development of the public information centers (part of the Dow Scopes of Work) appear to be a go and he will be seeking input on the content of the materials for the information centers. Final word on content rests with DEQ.


If you've not added your name to our list of supporters please do so today. Just send an email to cleanwatershed@aol.com and say sign me up OR just send this e-mail back to me and we'll add your name. Several more yard signs were delivered to Bay City, Thomas, Tittabawassee and Zilwaukee Twp. If you would like one please send an e-mail. If you are interested in a T-shirt send us an e-mail.

Best Regards,

Michelle Hurd Riddick

Lone Tree Council

"When toxic chemicals enter our bodies --or the bodies of our
children --without our informed consent, it is a toxic trespass.
Such a trespass is wrong and almost everyone recognizes that it
is wrong"------------Dr. Sandra Steingraber


Source: Lone Tree Council / TRW

For additional articles like this one, go to the Tittabawasse River Watch web site www.trwnews.net. for complete coverage of the Tittabawassee River Dow Chemical dioxin contamination saga.. The source organization's web site link is listed above. The Newspaper / Media page of our site contains an extensive archive of media articles dating back to January 2002. The Newspaper / Media page may be accessed by scrolling down to the bottom of the CONTENTS section and clicking on the Newspaper/Media link.