Dumping dioxin on Dixie
A class of toxic chemicals that persist in the environment and build up in the food chain, dioxins have been linked to a host of health problems including immune-system damage, hormone disruption and cancer — and at very low levels of exposure. Environmental dioxin pollution has been declining since the 1970s, but the EPA says current exposure levels "remain a concern."
That's why the agency has undertaken a reassessment of the chemicals' effects on human health. The EPA has said it would release the non-cancer portion of the reassessment this month, with the cancer portion to follow "as expeditiously as possible." The reassessment has been delayed for decades amid political pressure from industry.
EPA is expected to recommend an intake limit of 0.7 picograms of dioxin per kilogram of body weight per day, The Atlantic reports. (A picogram is one-trillionth of a gram.) The anticipated limit is lower than the 1 to 4 picogram limit set by the European Union for various foods.
Americans get most of their dioxin exposure from eating dairy products, meat, fish, poultry and eggs, which shows why blood dioxin levels are much lower in vegans, who do not eat animal products.