The Citizens Clearinghouse for Hazardous Waste is offering a listserv on the chemical dioxin. The purpose of the dioxin listserv is to (1) distribute scientific and other information on dioxin; (2) connect people who are working on dioxin; (3) alert people of events and activities that are scheduled around dioxin issues; and (4) provide a means for people to communicate on dioxin and get involved in CCHW's Stop Dioxin Exposure Campaign.
Background: Dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals known. A report released for public comment in September 1994 by the US Environmental Protection Agency clearly describes dioxin as a serious public health threat. The public health impact of dioxin may rival the impact that DDT had on public health in the 1960's. According to the EPA report, not only does there appear to be no "safe" level of exposure to dioxin, but levels of dioxin and dioxin-like chemicals have been found in the general US population that are "at or near levels associated with adverse health effects." The EPA report confirmed that dioxin is a cancer hazard to people; that exposure to dioxin can also cause severe reproductive and developmental problems (at levels 100 times lower than those associated with its cancer causing effects); and that dioxin can cause immune system damage and interfere with regulatory hormones.
Dioxin is a general term that describes a group of hundreds of chemicals that are highly persistent in the environment. The most toxic compound is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin or TCDD. The toxicity of other dioxins and chemicals like PCBs that act like dioxin are measured in relation to TCDD. Dioxin is formed as an unintentional by-product of many industrial processes involving chlorine such as waste incineration, chemical and pesticide manufacturing and pulp and paper bleaching. Dioxin was the primary toxic component of Agent Orange, was found at Love Canal in Niagara Falls, NY and was the basis for evacuations at Times Beach, MO and Seveso Italy.
Much of this new research into the health effects of dioxin was undertaken in response to industry challenges to EPA's findings on the toxicity of dioxin in 1991. Now, 3 years later, dioxin was found to be more dangerous than ever. Copies of the EPA Health Assessment report may be obtained by contacting:
CCHW has launched a nationwide campaign to stop dioxin exposures. This listserv will allow subscribers to share information on dioxin and provide a means to communicate about campaign activities and connect activists and scientists who want to support the campaign.