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20 Questions & Answers about Dioxins

August 1998

A great deal has been written and said about dioxins by scientists, journalists, government officials and others. Chances are the public debate surrounding these chemical by-products has raised questions in your own mind about the possible effects of dioxins on human health and the environment.

This document was written and produced to answer questions commonly asked about dioxins. It is intended to present complex information about the nature, sources, exposure and human and environmental effects of dioxins as plainly and succinctly as possible. Since dioxins will continue to engage the interest of the scientific and public policy communities, Euro Chlor will update this document as new information becomes available.


C O N T E N T S :

The Nature of Dioxin
1. What are dioxins?
2. What are some of the physical and chemical properties of dioxins?
The Sources of Dioxin
3. Where do dioxins come from?
4. How long have dioxins been in the environment and are they widely distributed?
Exposure to Dioxin
5. How am I exposed to dioxins?
6. How does dioxin enter food ?
7. Have I been exposed to dioxins?
8. What happens to dioxins once they get into my body?
Dioxin and Lab Animals
9. What do we know about the toxicity of dioxins in laboratory animals?
10. What is the relevance of animal data in assessing the human health risk of dioxins?
Dioxin and Health Effects
11. What do we know about the risk of health effects of dioxins in the general population?
12. What have studies of occupationally and accidentally-exposed populations shown about the health effects of dioxins?
13. Is there a great deal of concern that dioxins cause cancer in humans?
14. Can exposed mothers pass dioxins along to their babies in breast milk? Is it safe to breast-feed my baby?
15. Have dioxins been associated with breast cancer?
Dioxin and the Environment
16. Are dioxins causing effects on wildlife?
17. Are dioxins present in soil, and if so, do they accumulate in plants?
18. Are there dioxins in the air, and if so, can they deposit on plant surfaces?
19. What is being done to reduce dioxins emissions in the environment?
Further Information & References
20. Whom can I contact for additional information on dioxins?