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Standard - More Than Meets The Eye
The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry is detoxifying dioxin. The proposed standard - called the Minimal Risk Level (MRL) - is 200 times greater than that set by the EPA in the 1994 Dioxin Reassessment. There is more than meets the eye in the ATSDR detoxification of dioxin. Make no mistake about it - that is exactly what they are doing, and they are doing it quite purposely.
The ATSDR is closely linked to the Centers for Disease Control; both agencies are part of Health and Human Services. Previous to 1986 (I believe) the CDC had responsibility of correlation of toxic substances and disease. Undoubtedly many of the staff positions at the ATSDR used to be in the CDC.
Why is this relevant? The CDC was implicated in previous work to "detoxify" dioxin in the cases of Vietnam veterans who had been exposed to Agent Orange, canceling its Agent Orange study (1987) and releasing a study on the general health of veterans in 1988, which claimed that there was no evidence of health problems related to exposure to Agent Orange (see Dying From Dioxin by Lois Gibbs, pg 16).
The EPA's original 1988 Dioxin Assessment specified .006 pg/kg/day as the "maximum allowable dose". It appears that, incongruously, ATSDR issued its first Tox. Profile for dioxin, at 1 pg/kg/day, at about the same time, apparently having relied on the same data that EPA used.
Because the EPA has delayed release of the 1994 Dioxin Reassessment, the ATSDR is in a position to set the public standard for limits for dioxin intake.
THE SETTING OF THE MRL AT 1 pg/kg/day IS NOTHING LESS THAN SETTING THE SOLE OFFICIAL GOVERNMENT REGULATION ON ALLOWABLE DIOXIN INTAKE AT THE CURRENT LEVELS, including consumption of highly-contaminated beef, pork, and full-fat dairy products. It is an attempt to detoxify the meat and dairy industries, the incinerator industry, and the chemical and plastics industry by political proclamation.
It is extremely important, in my humble opionion, to not only get opposing comments to the ATSDR, but to publicize those comments in the media in a way that can be understood by non-technically-trained people.
Dioxin and PCB contamination of the biosphere represents one of the worst environmental threats facing us today. The epidemic of cancer and other environmental illnesses, as well as species extinction, will escalate rapidly unless we act to trap, destroy, and eliminate the sources of these powerful endocrine disruptors. (I know I'm preaching to the choir here. My point is that now is the time when we put our scientific knowledge to work to change the political climate, which, ostrich-like, seeks to hide from the menace by keeping it a secret.).
I have no idea whether we can change the thinking in ATSDR. I know we must enlighten the U.S. (and the world's) citizens. Whether or not the ATSDR publishes this standard as is will not ultimately change the truth about dioxin toxicity. It would just be nice if we did not have the ATSDR as an adversary.
Thanks for your time
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