The Environmental Protection Agency has finally released its report on the non-cancer dangers of dioxins — toxic chemicals that abound in most consumer products.
Though health advocates have been wary of dioxins for years, the FDA has said after a nearly 3 decades-long delay that the nasty carcinogenic chems — in everything from office paper to computers to building materials — can cause “chloracne, developmental and reproductive effects, damage to the immune system, interference with hormones, skin rashes, skin discoloration, excessive body hair, and possibly mild liver damage.”
The reason the report is so necessary? With the FDA’s official assessment, regulators can ramp up limits on the amount of dioxins present in food, water, and the environment.
Though dioxins can be found in nature, their high concentration in industrially produced materials poses a greater risk to human health.
The Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association recently demanded cancer stats for 9-11 first responders after analyses showed that they had been exposed to high dioxin levels. (A ProPublica report discovered that the federal government tried to remain hush-hush about dioxin-related risks at Ground Zero, downplaying the dangers of those and other chemicals such as asbestos.)
And in January, a coalition of environmental groups pressured Mayor Bloomberg’s administration to take a tougher stance on curbing the city’s use of dioxins and follow reduction guidelines.
The Mayor’s office told Runnin’ Scared that the administration is actively working with its primary vendor, Staples, to buy low-dioxin products.
“We’ve been working very hard and very diligently to meet these standards.”
Daniel Gradess, of the Center for Health, Environment, & Justice (CHEJ), told Runnin’ Scared that he and fellow advocates are pleasantly surprised by the EPA’s move.
“We weren’t really sure this report would ever see the light of day,” he said. “But today we have a full accounting of the effect of health impacts. Unfortunately, they include learning disabilities, birth defects, and diabetes.”