Daily News Archive
From May 16, 2001

EPA's Scientific Advisory Panel Finalizes Report Stating Dioxin Cancer Risk

The scientific advisory committee (SAC) for the EPA unanimously voted on May 15, 2001 to finally send its report stating that dioxin causes cancer in laboratory animals and possibly in humans to EPA Administrator Christie Whitman, reports the Associated Press (AP). The study findings could provide a basis for the federal government to more tightly control dioxin production and contamination of our air, food, and water. It took the SAC, a 17-member panel, over a decade to finalize the dioxin report.

Whereas, the National Institutes of Health recently classified dioxin as a known human carcinogen, SAC members were split over whether to classify the chemicals as a known human carcinogen, as it did in last years draft report.

SAC Chair, William Glaze, a professor at the University of North Carolina, told AP that the SAC thinks "the agency should take action to continue to try to limit emissions of dioxin in the environment… [The] committee [feels] that regulating emissions is desirable." Glaze stated that the SAC's key finding is that "diet is the principal root of exposure." Dioxins are known to bioaccumulate in fatty tissues and milk.

SAC is planning to send the final report to EPA Administrator Christie Whitman by June 1, 2001.

Despite, the science backing the report findings, industry groups, like the Chlorine Chemistry Council, continue to feel that there is a large amount of uncertainty with the effects of dioxin and dioxin-like compounds.

The delay in the release of the dioxin study has been cited by EPA as a reason for the delay in the completion of the agency's risk assessment of the wood preservative pentachlorophenol (penta). Penta is an extremely toxic chemical and is contaminated with dioxins, furans and
hexachlorobenzene. EPA's preliminary science chapter, released in 1999, found that children exposed to soil contaminated with penta face a 220x increase cancer risk. EPA also calculated that 100% of workers that paint penta on to utility poles will suffer from cancer.