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Info and Press Conference about: The EPA; Dioxin; Food Safety; and Public Health

The press release and information below is about the following event: “News Conference:  The Significance of the US EPA Oral Reference Dose for Dioxin to the Protection of Public Health” to be held in Albany today, Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 1:00 PM.

Dioxin in our air, and in our food supply (such as the milk we drink), can cause cancer and other harm to human beings. A group of scientists and environmental activists are trying to lobby government to solve some of the problem with better regulations and better public information campaigns. A way for people to limit their own dioxin exposure is to simply consume less animal fat.

__________________________________________

Media Advisory
7/6/12 For Immediate Release

State University of New York at Albany
Institute for Health and the Environment
David O. Carpenter, MD, Director
518.525.2660

Cancer Action NY
Donald L. Hassig, Director
315.262.2456

Citizen’s Environmental Coalition
Barbara Warren, Executive Director
_______________________________________________________________________

News Conference:  The Significance of the US EPA Oral Reference Dose
for Dioxin to the Protection of Public Health

Tuesday, July 10, 2012, 1:00 PM

LCA Press Room, Legislative Office Building, Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY USA

(Presentations by Dr. Carpenter, Mr. Hassig and Ms. Warren will occur
in the order listed above.)

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published “Reanalysis of
Key Issues Related to Dioxin Toxicity and Response to NAS Comments” in
February of 2012.  EPA sets forth a non-carcinogenic effects chronic
oral reference dose for dioxin in this document.  Those who consume
average quantities of animal fats receive dioxin exposures in excess
of the oral reference dose.

The purpose of this news conference is to explain the significance of
EPA’s non-carcinogenic effects oral reference dose to matters of
public health protection.  Dioxin exposures at current levels of food
supply contamination are damaging the health of those who consume
average quantities of animal fats.  The US EPA is struggling to move
forward with actions that address this food supply contamination
problem.  That struggle is a defining part of EPA’s history on
dioxins.  The struggle to act on scientific knowledge when corporate
pressures oppose action is what deprived Americans of a dioxin
reassessment for nearly three decades.

“EPA says that the most sensitive non-cancer effects of dioxin are to
reduce sperm count and lower thyroid activity.  The effects were
greatest when exposure occurred during childhood.  We need to reduce
exposure to dioxin, especially to children.”-David O. Carpenter, MD

“The most effective use of currently existing scientific knowledge on
the subjects of dioxin exposure and damages to health is the provision
of a warning to the general public making know the fact that
consumption of animal fats at current levels of food supply
contamination imposes a significant quantity of disease risk.  The
oral reference dose for dioxin can be used to give this warning to
Americans.  If EPA believes that it must share the work of warning
Americans with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), then the Agency
should move quickly to enlist the assistance of FDA.”-Donald L. Hassig

“The release of this part of the dioxin reassessment by EPA after 27
years is an important first step in countering the pressure and
influence of the chemical industry.

There are 2 essential additional actions needed now to protect public
health:  (1) reduce industrial dioxin discharges to zero rapidly; and
(2) provide advisories to the public about how to reduce dietary
exposures to dioxin.”-Barbara Warren

Cancer Action NY submitted the following questions to the US EPA for
the purpose of determining EPA’s position on the implications of the
new oral reference dose to matters of public health protection.  EPA
provided answers which avoid the fact that animal fat consumption
imposes exposures in excess of the oral reference dose.  The Agency is
attempting to avoid a politically uncomfortable reality that is made
ever so clear by the oral reference dose.  Current levels of dioxin
exposure are significantly damaging public health.  EPA is responsible
for minimizing harm to the environment and public health.  This is the
time for EPA to take action on dioxins.

The 0.6 picogram dioxin TEQ/kg bw/day exposure estimate set forth by
EPA is for per capita exposure.  Dioxin exposures for those who
consume average quantities of animal fats are higher than per capita
exposure because per capita exposure is an average including those who
consume animal fats and those who do not.

1. What does EPA estimate to be the current quantity of dioxin
exposure for those who consume average quantities of animal fat?

Estimated average adult dioxin exposures in the U.S. are slightly
lower than the dioxin reference dose (RfD). A recent study estimates
U.S. average background dioxin exposures to be about 0.6 pg
TEQ/kg-day. The RfD is 0.7 pg/kg-day.

2. In the 2003 draft of the agency’s dioxin reassessment a per capita
exposure value of 1.0 pg dioxin TEQ/kg bw/day was set forth. EPA later
recalculated exposure using the same data but assigning no detects a
value of zero rather than one half the limit of detection as was done
in the calculation which produced the exposure value stated above. The
recalculation produced an exposure value of 0.6 pg dioxin TEQ/kg
bw/day. In the paper which presented the recalculated exposure value
the statement is found that the recalculated value should not be
viewed as evidence that dioxin exposure had decreased. Considering the
fact that assigning no detects a value of one half the limit of
detection is a well established practice for producing estimates of
dioxin concentrations, is it fair to state that per capita dioxin
exposure is approximately 1.0 pg dioxin TEQ/kg bw/day?

Estimated average adult dioxin exposures in the U.S. are slightly
lower than the dioxin reference dose (RfD). A recent study estimates
U.S. average background dioxin exposures to be about 0.6 pg
TEQ/kg-day. The RfD is 0.7 pg/kg-day.

3. Are a considerable number of Americans receiving dioxin exposures
in excess of the chronic oral reference dose?

Most Americans have low-level exposure to dioxins. Most dioxin
exposure occurs through the diet with small amounts of exposure coming
from breathing air containing trace amounts of dioxins and from
inadvertent ingestion of soil containing dioxins. While we all likely
have some level of dioxin in our bodies, the levels are low and
findings show that low-levels of exposure do not pose a significant
health risk.

4. What damages to health occur at exposures in excess of the oral
reference dose?

Exceeding the RfD for one day, or a week or more does not necessarily
means that an individual has a greater risk of health effects.
Constant exposure at higher doses than the RfD are more of a cause for
concern. However, it is not possible to determine an exact dose where
adverse effects will start to occur. Nor is it possible to determine
exactly how many days of exposure above the RfD it would take to cause
health effects. The derivation of an RfD generally includes scientific
assumptions and factors that account for uncertainty. Therefore, it is
designed to be public health protective. It is designed to be
protective even of sensitive subgroups.

5. Do current levels of food supply contamination impose significant
adverse health effects upon those who consume average quantities of
animal fat?

The U.S. food supply is one of the safest and most nutritious in the
world. Americans should eat a balanced diet and follow the Dietary
Guidelines for Americans, 2010. EPA and its federal partners such as
the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture do not recommend avoiding any particular
foods because of dioxin. Each food group provides important nutrients
needed for health.


Donald L. Hassig, Director
Cancer Action NY
Cancer Action News Network
P O Box 340
Colton, NY USA 13625
315.262.2456
www.canceractionny.org

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