Dave, since you seem to be answering a wide range of questions, I’ve been reading with horror about the evidence that Ukrainian liberal candidate Viktor A. Yushchenko has been poisoned by dioxin, and it struck me: isn’t this the same chemical that the Food and Drug Administration tests for in our meat and poultry?
Right you are. Dioxins are formed by combustion processes (waste incineration and burning fossil fuels) and, guess what, we all have some level of dioxin in our bodies. The FDA calls that “natural background” levels and even though the level of dioxin in the environment has been declining for the last 30 years, there’s still a lot of it out there and it’s possible that the level in your body is actually increasing.
Though the FDA is afraid to say “go vegetarian”, you can draw your own conclusions when you read that their answer to the question of how to lower your own dioxin levels is “Although dioxins are an environmental contaminant, exposure most often occurs through the food by consumption of animal fats.” .
The FDA has an extensive Q&A about dioxins if you’d like to read it, but be prepared, it’s very technical.
Wondering about what dioxin does if you get too much in your body? Here’s another quote from an NIH report on the aftereffects of Agent Orange in Vietnam: “TCDD [the chemical name for dioxin] has been shown to suppress the immune system in animals, and has caused cleft palate and ureter defects in mice. Rats exposed to TCDD have shown hormonal imbalances, which may affect the development and function of the endocrine system. TCDD is also believed to cause cancers such as Hodgkin disease and soft-tissue sarcoma, liver damage, reproductive problems such as spina bifida and miscarriage, neurotoxicity, and skin effects such as chloracne, which causes severe acne-like lesions.”
Oh, and if that’s not enough to concern you, Dioxin is now listed as a known human carcinogen by the National Toxicology Program. The NIH report states that dioxin “is not deliberately produced today but has been found as a contaminant in some herbicides and pesticides and is formed as an inadvertent by-product of incineration of waste. TCDD levels in Americans have declined in recent years as a result of environmental controls but is still widely detected in the environment and can be found in very small amounts in the general population”