Food contamination by dioxins in Germany: useful facts and perspective on dioxins impact on health and the environment and global trends

Excerpts from the Digest prepared by GreenFacts as a faithful summary of the leading scientific consensus report produced in 1998 by the International Programme on Chemical Safety (IPCS) of the World Health Organization (WHO): “Executive Summary of the Assessment of the health risk of dioxins” Learn more…

(Version française :  http://blog.greenfacts.org/en/782-la-contamination-alimentaire-en-allemagne-une-perspective-factuelle-utile-sur-l’impact-des-dioxines-sur-la-sante-humaine-et-l’environnement-et-les-tendances-globales 

Since 1998, there have been no fundamental changes in the scientific understanding of dioxins. Except in accidental situations, global dioxin levels have since continued to drop both in the environment and in people.

Origin of human exposure

Over 90% of the human intake of dioxins is through food, mainly from animal origin. The intake is ten to hundred times higher for breast fed babies than for adults with respect to their body weight. In most industrialized countries, dioxin exposure has been reduced by almost 50% compared to the early 90’s. More…

Dioxin levels in food, environmental samples and breast milk have decreased over the 1990s. In most industrialized countries, the daily dioxin intake is currently in the order of 1 to 3 pg I-TEQ/kg body weight per day. More…

A Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) of 1 to 4 pg I-TEQ per kg body weight per day has been established for dioxins by the World Health Organization (WHO). The upper limit of  4 is provisional: the ultimate goal is to reduce human intake levels below 1 pg I-TEQ per kg body weight per day. This value was derived from the lowest doses causing adverse effects in experimental animals, divided by a safety factor of 10. This Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) should be seen as an average over a life-time, implying that this value may be exceeded occasionally for short periods without expected health consequences. More…

Although breast-fed infants are more exposed to dioxins, under normal conditions the many beneficial effects of human milk generally outweigh the risks. Dioxin levels in human milk have been reduced since the early 90’s. More…

Health effects in humans

Some delay in nervous system development as well as changes of behavior were seen in children of mothers who had been highly exposed to dioxins and PCBs. In some cases these effects occurred even at current (1998)  background levels. The effects were likely due to exposure through the placenta rather than through breast milk. However, at least in one case high levels of PCBs and dioxins in breast milk were shown to affect young children’s neurobehavioural test results. More…

Other non-cancer effects observed on adults accidentally exposed to high levels of toxic dioxins include: diabetes, liver and heart diseases, skin problems (e.g. chloracne), conjunctivitis, fatigue, malaise and slowed nervous reactions. More…

At very high dioxin exposure, the risk for all cancers combined appears to increase. Non-cancer effects include cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and changes in blood composition. Infants of accidentally highly exposed mothers showed severe developmental and neurological effects. More…

Origin of dioxins

Dioxins are mainly released by human activities such as in uncontrolled incineration and fuel combustion. Some dioxins and some “dioxin-like” PCBs are known to be harmful.

Unlike PCBs which were used in the past in several industrial applications, dioxins have no uses.  They are formed unintentionally and predominantly released as byproducts of human activities such as incineration and fuel combustion. They are also formed in minor quantities by natural processes such as forest fires and volcanoes

 

  • Download or browse the GreenFacts Digest of the WHO report on Dioxins

http://www.greenfacts.org/en/dioxins/dioxins-greenfacts-level2.pdf

Note : the content of the shorts reports of the blog are not verified by the Scientific Board

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