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DRAFT DIOXIN REASSESSMENT CHAPTERS RELEASED FOR SCIENTIFIC REVIEW AND PUBLIC COMMENT
Release Date: 06/12/2000
United StatesCommunications, Education,
Environmental ProtectionAnd Media Relations
Note to Correspondents
DRAFT DIOXIN REASSESSMENT CHAPTERS RELEASED
FOR SCIENTIFIC REVIEW AND PUBLIC COMMENT
Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released draft chapters of its reassessment of the health risks from dioxin for scientific and public review as part of a process designed to complete the reassessment by the end of the year. The process will include review by an independent peer review panel in July and review by EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board planned for October.
At this time, EPA is inviting comments on two chapters of the reassessment: the summary (Integrated Summary and Risk Characterization) and a comparison of toxicity among different dioxins (Toxicity Equivalence Factors chapter). These chapters are available through the Internet at: www.epa.gov/ncea/dioxin.htm. Comments will be accepted until two weeks after the Scientific Advisory Board review this Fall.
The reassessment is the product of an exhaustive review by EPA scientists and other government and non-government scientists begun in 1991. It reflects comments received since release of an earlier draft in 1994, recommendations received from EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board in 1995 and extensive additional data on dioxin obtained by the Agency.
The reassessment reviews the risks from a group of about 30 chemically-related compounds collectively referred to as “dioxins.” They include various dioxins and dibenzofurans, which are inadvertently created by a number of human activities such as combustion and some industrial and manufacturing processes. They also include certain PCBs formerly manufactured in the United States as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment. Dioxins are long-lived in the environment and can accumulate in the tissues of animals and humans.
The report finds that dioxin levels in the environment have declined substantially over the past two decades following a series of regulatory actions by EPA and other activities that have reduced dioxin emissions. EPA estimates that between 1987 and 1995 dioxin emissions decreased by about 80 percent in the United States, primarily due to reductions from municipal and medical waste incinerators, with further declines continuing. Exposure of people to dioxin appears to be declining as emissions drop.
The draft reassessment also reviews the toxicity of dioxins. Dioxins can alter the fundamental growth and development of cells in a way that leads to a variety of impacts such as cancer and adverse effects upon reproduction and development in animals and potentially in people, according to the draft. Based on a more complete understanding of dioxin toxicity, the draft finds that risks to people may be somewhat higher than previously believed, even though actual exposure seems to be declining among the general population.
In addition to the two draft chapters for which the Agency is inviting comments, the entire reassessment and other background information are now available on EPA’s dioxin reassessment web site: www.epa.gov/ncea/dioxin.htm. Limited paper copies of the summary chapter, and a CD-ROM of the reassessment (not including the summary chapter), are available from the National Service Center for Environmental Publications at 1-800-490-9198.
Following completion of scientific and public review, EPA will issue the final dioxin reassessment document and at the same time will publish a draft dioxin Risk Management Strategy for public comment. The strategy will propose EPA policy and programs for dioxin using the reassessment as its scientific basis.