The Science of Dioxin

February 16, 2017 | Commercial Litigation | Complex Torts & Product Liability

“Little Health Risk” from PCDD/Fs in Food in China, Paper Finds

The Journal of Environmental Sciences has published a scientific paper that found “little health risk” from polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and dibenzofurans (“PCDD/Fs”) in food in China.


The paper, entitled “Patterns and dietary intake of polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans in food products in China,” was written by Chinese researchers Lingyun Wang, Gangdou Ding, Zhiguang Zhou, Xun Liu, Yixiao Wang, Heidi Qunhui Xie, Tuan Xu, Pu Wang, and Bin Zhao.

The researchers said that, to evaluate the contamination levels in various food products in the Chinese market and to assess the dietary exposure of the Chinese population, they studied 11 varieties of food groups, including beef, mutton, chicken, duck, pork, fish, seafood, milk, and dairy products.

The researchers found that the average concentrations of PCDD/Fs in all groups ranged from 0.291 to 8.468 picogram/gram (“pg/g”) whole weight (“w.w.”). The average toxic equivalency concentrations were from 0.012 pg toxic equivalents (“TEQ”)/g w.w. for cereal to 0.367 pg TEQ/g fat for marine oil.

In addition, the researchers reported, the dietary estimated mean intake for Chinese rural and urban populations were 0.656 and 0.514 pg TEQ/kg body weight/day, respectively.

Researchers’ Conclusions

The researchers compared the estimated dietary intakes of PCDD/Fs with toxicological reference values and determined that both rural and urban populations “were well below those values.”

Concluding that there was “little health risk” from PCDD/Fs in food and China, the researchers also found that the overall daily intake of PCDD/Fs in China was lower than in many developed countries.

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There Is No Concern Over Dioxin in Tampons, Scientist Writes

An article published in the Montreal Gazette sought to put concerns to rest about dioxin in tampons.

Dr. Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill University’s Office for Science & Society, has written an article for the Montreal Gazette entitled, “The Right Chemistry: Tampons, in Space and on Earth.”

In his article, Dr. Schwarcz discussed what he characterized as “the allegation that tampons are contaminated with dioxin.”

He pointed out that the “usual suspect for the source of the dioxin” was rayon, made from wood pulp, when it was bleached with chlorine gas.

Dr. Schwarcz explained that the reaction of compounds in wood pulp with chlorine could result in the formation of dioxins.

However, Dr. Schwarcz pointed out, manufacturers have switched to chlorine dioxide, which “essentially eliminated the formation of dioxins.”

Now, Dr. Schwarcz stated, referencing the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) and Health Canada, “the trace amounts that may be detected are of no consequence.”

Dr. Schwarcz added that tampons made with unbleached organic cotton had “no possible contamination with dioxin.”

For further information, please contact James V. Aiosa, Paul V. Majkowski, Lawrence S. Han, or your regular Rivkin Radler attorney.

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