US to release first-ever measurement of dioxins
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said last week it will release as early as next week new pollution data that for the first time tracks emissions of the cancer-causing chemical dioxin.
The dioxin data will be included in the agency\'s so-called toxic release inventory, released annually in the spring. The inventory tracks emissions of more than 600 toxic compounds by U.S. industrial facilities into the air, water and land.
Since 1995, the EPA has imposed regulations on major dioxin emitters, including municipal-waste incinerators, cement kilns and pulp and paper mills.
Dioxin has been fingered as the toxic component in Agent Orange, used by the U.S. military to clear forests during the Vietnam War. Dioxin pollution caused the 1983 evacuation of the town of Times Beach, Missouri, and the 1978 evacuation of the Love Canal site in Niagara Falls, New York.
Dioxin builds up in living tissue over time, so even small exposures can accumulate to dangerous levels.
Experts say dioxin accumulates in the food chain and can be found in trace amounts in meat and dairy products. In fish, for example, dioxin levels can be found at 100,000 times that of the surrounding environment, environmentalists say.
In 1998, the EPA ordered that dioxin be added to the toxic release inventory, which is published two years after the data is collected because of the volume of information involved. The 2000 figures that soon will be released \"will be the first time (the inventory) will include dioxins,\" an EPA spokesman said.
In people, dioxins can cause cancer, infertility and perhaps other sexual changes. Vietnam War veterans exposed to dioxin in Agent Orange say it has caused a variety of ailments, including cancer and birth defects in their children.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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