Dioxin and PCB update in Belgium
Luc Jansegers BVBA
LucJansegers at village.uunet.be
Sat Jun 5 03:01:23 EST 1999
I do not have the full answer but this is what came in recently from promed
and gives a good overview about the possible risks.
The facts are that dioxin seems to be arround through low temperature
burning of all type of material.
Human beings seems to be more resistant to dioxin contaminations than
Moreover the incidence started in January in poultry flocks (laying hens and
broilers), the laying hens are known, no new incidences of toxcicosis came
out as of March 99. The intoxication of the flocks was therefor limited in
time and number, and indentified.
The question arised because of the spread meanwhile of food (eggs and
poultry meat) into the human food chain.
Fats are used in animal feed to a large extend in laying hens and broilers
to a lesser extend in pigs and are practically not used in ruminants.
As dioxins accumulate in the fat and there is up to now no antidote i am
afraid there is no remedy even bcoming vegetarian will not protect you
fromother sources of dioxin exposure.
DIOXIN HEALTH ASSESSMENTS
A ProMED-mail post
Dioxin, chicken & eggs contaminated - Belgium 990531223105
Dioxin, chicken & eggs contaminated - Belgium (02) 990601204820
Dioxin, chicken & eggs contaminated - Belgium (03) not yet archived
Dioxin contamination, pigs - Belgium not yet archived]
Date: Thu, 3 Jun 1999 12:33:26 +0700
From: John S. Moran <jmoran at dnet.net.id>
In a recent post recounting the measures being taken by several European
nations to protect their citizens against Belgian chicken and eggs
"containing high levels of dioxin, a highly toxic chemical linked to
cancer," I was struck by the fact that the response from Italy, a country
"keenly aware of dioxin after an explosion in 1976 at an agricultural
chemical factory in the town of Seveso in northern Italy caused more than
300 grams of dioxin to be released," was reacting less vigorously than most
of the other countries mentioned. To learn more about the Italians'
experience with dioxin, I did a quick search for relevant abstracts
available on-line from the U.S. National Library of Medicine through
PubMed. Some of what I found may be of interest to ProMED-mail readers,
especially those who live in Europe and enjoy eating chickens or eggs. In
1. The tragic unintentional exposure in 1976 in Italy resulted "in the
highest levels of the toxicant ever recorded in humans" (ref A). Some
"serum 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD) levels in residents of
the contaminated zones in Seveso, Italy, in 1976, ... are among the highest
ever reported and thus this population serves as a benchmark for comparison
of human exposure and potential adverse health effects" (ref B). Twenty
years after the exposure, the geometric mean plasma TCDD level among those
most exposed was 53.2 ppt (parts per trillion) whereas the level in
non-exposed persons was 4.9 ppt (ref A).
2. A study of cancer mortality from 1976-1991 among residents of Seveso
"found no increase for all-cancer mortality or major specific sites (for
example, respiratory among males, breast among females)." The investigators
did find excesses in cancers of some specific sites when subjects were
stratified by sex but there was no clear dose effect and they concluded
only that "The specific excesses that we observed were not explained by
bias or confounding, and their association with dioxin exposure is
plausible" (ref C). A review published in 1998 concluded that
"chloracne...was the only [early] effect established with certainty" and
that although long-term studies uncovered excesses in cardiovascular
mortality, respiratory diseases, diabetes, cancer of gastrointestinal sites
and of the lymphatic and hematopoietic tissue, "Results cannot be viewed as
conclusive" (ref D).20
3. Although there seems to be no doubt in the lay press about dioxin's
status as a carcinogen, there seems to be some controversy in the
toxicology literature (ref E).20
A. Landi MT, et al. 2,3,7,8-Tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin plasma levels in
Seveso 20 years after the accident. Environ Health Perspect 1998
B. Needham LL, et. al. Exposure assessment: serum levels of TCDD in Seveso,
Italy. Environ Res 1999 Feb;80(2 Pt 2):S200-S206.
C. Bertazzi PA, et al. Dioxin exposure and cancer risk: a 15-year mortality
study after the "Seveso accident". Epidemiology 1997 Nov;8(6):646-52.
D. Bertazzi PA, Bernucci I, Brambilla G, Consonni D, Pesatori AC. The
Seveso studies on early and long-term effects of dioxin exposure: a review.
Environ Health Perspect 1998 Apr;106 Suppl 2:625-33.
E. Kayajanian G. Dioxin is a promoter blocker, a promoter, and a net
anticarcinogen. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol 1997 Aug;26(1 Pt 1):134-7.20
John S. Moran, MD, MPH, FACPM
e-mail: jmoran at dnet.net.id
Date: Thu, 03 Jun 1999 03:10:09 -0400
From: Marjorie P. Pollack <pollackmp at mindspring.com>
Source: BBC online (edited) 2 Jun 1999
The European Union(EU) is taking action after it was discovered chickens in
Belgium had been exposed to high levels of dioxins through their feed. It
is not the first time dioxins have provoked a heath scare in Europe - an
entire population was exposed following an explosion at a chemical plant in
Seveso, Italy, in 1976. What are the risks?
What are dioxins?
Dioxins are a group of chemicals known to increase the likelihood of
cancer. An unwanted byproduct, they are formed when heating processes
create certain chemicals - chlorine is the best known. Environmental
campaign groups describe them as among the most dangerous toxins known.
Scientists are working to establish their exact toxicity, but a draft
report from the US Environmental Protection Agency indicates dioxins are
considered a serious threat to public health.
In 1997, a WorldHealth Organisation group declared the most toxic dioxin -
2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin, or TCDD - a class 1 carcinogen,
meaning it causes cancer in humans.
Where are they found?
Just about everywhere - they are present in the atmosphere, soil, rivers
and the food chain.
Where do they come from?
Waste incinerators and chemical and fertiliser manufacturing plants mainly.
They have been more widespread since the introduction of a new chlorine
production technique in 1900. However, volcanoes and forest fires also
What is a safe level of exposure?
In 1990 the WHO set a safe daily exposure level of 10 picogrammes per
kilogram of body weight.
A picogramme is one millionth of a millionth of a gram. However, following
further studies this was re-evaluated in 1998 to one to four picogrammes
How great is the health risk?
The first disease associated with dioxins was the extreme skin disease
chloracne. It causes acne like pustules to form across the body and can
last for several years.
Most concerns now lie with the potential of dioxins to cause cancer, but
they are also suspected of affecting reproductive health, lowering sperm
counts, causing behavioural problems and increasing the incidence of
diabetes. There is a growing body of research indicating that dioxins can
cause such diseases.
In particular, a peer-reviewed study of the population of Seveso found
that, in the 10 years following the explosion, both men and women more
likely to have cancer. It looked at people who lived in an area some
distance form the plant that was not evacuated. Both sexes were more likely
to have cancers of the blood system, while women were also more likely to
have cancer of the gall bladder and liver system. Also of concern is the
effect dioxins can have on unborn children and infants, as they can be
passed through the placenta or carried in breast milk.
How do they get into food?
In living organisms, toxins reside in fat. This means they can persist in
the food chain through a process called bioaccumalution. They are mainly
found in meat and dairy produce, but are also found in poultry, fish and on
unwashed fruit and vegetables.
Fish accumulate dioxins through exposure to water - dioxins are repelled by
the water and attach themselves to the fatty fish Unless - as was the case
in Belgium - feed becomes contaminated, animals are usually exposed to
dioxins in the air settling on their food. They accumulate in the fatty
tissue of animals, and the longer that animal lives, the greater the build
up. Dioxins in the air also land on fruit and vegetables, but washing can
get rid of these - they are not absorbed into the plant itself
What is the outlook?
Pressure from environmental lobbyists has led to companies changing their
practice and a reduction in dioxin emissions.
Following the 1998 WHO meeting on dioxins, Dr Maged Younes, head of risk
assessment in the organisation's Programme for the Promotion of Chemical
Safety, said such steps were proving effective. "Recent exposure data show
that measures introduced to control dioxin release in a number of countries
have resulted in a substantial reduction in intake of these compounds in
the past few years," he said.
"This is evidenced by a marked decrease in dioxin levels in human milk, as
found in an exposure study conducted by the WHO European Centre for
Environment and Health, with the highest rates of decrease being observed
in areas which had the highest initial concentrations."
Campaigners continue to press for tighter controls.
e-mail: promed at usa.healthnet.org
georges.terryn at pandora.be wrote in message <37584E9E.AD91F452 at pandora.be>...
>The news is, if anyone out there cares:
>80.000kg of contaminated fat has been used to make 1.4 million kg of
>animal fodder. Mostly it has been fed to chickens. Contamination is
>Dioxin and PCB.
>700 to 1500 x 5ppm for the dioxin
>50 mg/kilo for the PCB
>We're in trouble...
>scientists are discussing the matter. Some say contamination is diluted
>over the chickens, other say chickens has been eaten by same
>Most just become a bit confused. What? You're talking milligrams, not
>Hey, anybody got a clue about the consequences, out there?
>Contamination went on for a periode somewhere from january 15th when the
>fat got contaminated till who knows. Any food containing anything with
>more than two percent eggs or a living animal with eyesis removed from
>shelves in Belgium. Possibly ten million people are hit.
>Any suggestions, besides don't touch it, become vegan?
>Please let us know.
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