EPA misses dioxin deadline
February 1st, 2012
11:22 AM ET

EPA misses dioxin deadline

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency missed its self-imposed deadline to complete a dioxin health assessment by the end of January. The agency, which has been working on publishing dioxin risks since the mid-1980s, on Wednesday said the report would be "finalized as expeditiously as possible."

The missed deadline prompted criticism from environmental groups.

"Shame on EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson for denying parents the information they need to protect their children from the health impacts of dioxin, said Lois Marie Gibbs, executive director of the Center for Health, Environment & Justice.

The EPA planned to release a non-cancer health assessment of dioxin by January 31, with the cancer assessment following soon after.

The agency's plans to quantify dioxin risks has pitted environmental groups, parent organizations and Vietnam veterans in favor of an assessment against the agriculture, food and chemical industries, which say the EPA report is unnecessary and will hurt businesses by triggering unfounded fears.


"Another delay is unfortunate, but it is clear that the EPA has more work to do in order for the agency to release a complete and scientifically defensible dioxin assessment," the American Chemistry Council, an industry group, said in a statement.


The EPA calls dioxins "likely human carcinogens." Most exposure to dioxins come from food, particularly meat, dairy, fish and shellfish.

Dioxins are a family of highly toxic chemical compounds. Most dioxins are byproducts of industrial processes and get into the food chain, where they accumulate in fatty tissue. Dioxin was also an impurity in Agent Orange, a defoliant used during the Vietnam War.

Almost every man, woman and child on the plant now has some dioxin in their bodies. Dioxin exposure has been linked to learning disabilities, reproductive problems, endometriosis and diabetes. The developing fetus and newborns, exposed through breast milk, are considered particularly vulnerable to dioxin exposure.

Dioxin levels in the environment peaked in the 1960s and '70s and have been declining since, according to studies.

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    From the article, one gets the impression that the health risks are already well known. What, exactly, is the point of a new compendium of existing results?

    February 1, 2012 at 11:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • im

      The main reason being that many health effects take years to develop. Follow-up studies on populations are required to assess how health outcomes have progressed since exposures (many that occurred among soldiers in the VNW).

      February 1, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse |
    • Easy E

      Very little that the EPA does is scientific, it's mostly based on politics. Of course we all know that dioxins and difurans are deadly. But if the report comes out and states the obvious, then the EPA would be forced to actually get off their rears and do some enforcement. The leadership of the EPA is too cowardly to take on industry, so they just keep delaying reports or birying findings so that industry can go on damaging public health ad infinitum, lest a single dollar of shareholder profits/management bonuses be affected.

      February 1, 2012 at 13:39 | Report abuse |
  2. Easy E

    What did you expect from the sycophantic bureaucrat clown who okayed the construction of a daycare center on a Superfund site...where the toddlers quickly became ill with mercury poisoning. This is the same clown who okayed the use of massive amounts of Corexit in the BP spill, such that most of the oil is now suspended in the deep water in the Gulf of Mexico, instead of on the surface. Lisa Jackson is so pro-polluter she might as well shut the whole place down and just let everyone do what they want...at least we wouldn't have to use taxpayer money to get the same results!

    February 1, 2012 at 13:36 | Report abuse | Reply
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    Shouldn't the EPA get a huge fine they can in no way afford for failing to produce the report it could in no way produce in the time it had to produce it? That would be J U S T I C E.

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