Toxic chemical compounds called dioxins have been the subject of concern in two media stories recently. In one instance, residents of Saginaw, Michigan are battling Dow Chemical Company over dioxin pollution that began in the 1980s. The issue was brought to light in 2002 when environmental regulators in Michigan reported on the effects of dioxin contamination on the soil along the river. Over 40 residents have brought charges against the chemical giant. Since the lawsuit began nearly fifteen years ago, Dow has removed portions of sediment deemed contaminated and pledged to reduce contamination in the future. Continue Reading

How much do you know about dioxins? Dioxins are toxic compounds that persist in the environment all around us. They exist in the air, the soil, rivers, lakes and even in the human food supply. They differ from other food contaminants in their unique chemical structure, which allows them to remain very resistant to breakdown. Throughout the past couple of decades, researchers have only begun to scratch the surface in gaining a thorough understanding of these molecules and their impact on the health of our society. Continue Reading

Most people are aware of typical environmental contaminants that are produced as a result of modern human activity, such as carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter. Residents of larger cities may even be familiar with the visible smog that can engulf a skyline as a result of these air pollutants.

Aside from the common ones, other toxic contaminants exist in the environment that may be lesser-known by the general population, but can be just as harmful to humans. The word, “dioxins” refers to a group of compounds that includes dioxins, furans, and certain polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). These structurally similar compounds are produced inadvertently as a result of large scale combustion activities such as incineration, thermal metal processes, and car exhaust. PCBs were actually intentionally produced during the mid twentieth century to be used in transformer oil, coolant fluids, carbonless copy paper, and plasticizers, until their manufacture was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 1979. Continue Reading