Dioxins and their effects on human health

Key Facts

  • Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that are persistent environmental pollutants (POPs).
  • Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals.
  • More than 90% of human exposure is through food, mainly meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish. Many national authorities have programmes in place to monitor the food supply.
  • Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.
  • Due to the omnipresence of dioxins, all people have background exposure, which is not expected to affect human health. However, due to the highly toxic potential, efforts need to be undertaken to reduce current background exposure.
  • Prevention or reduction of human exposure is best done via source-directed measures, i.e. strict control of industrial processes to reduce formation of dioxins.

Dioxins are environmental pollutants. They belong to the so-called “dirty dozen” - a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Dioxins are of concern because of their highly toxic potential. Experiments have shown they affect a number of organs and systems.

Once dioxins enter the body, they last a long time because of their chemical stability and their ability to be absorbed by fat tissue, where they are then stored in the body. Their half-life in the body is estimated to be 7 to 11 years. In the environment, dioxins tend to accumulate in the food chain. The higher an animal is in the food chain, the higher the concentration of dioxins.

Dioxins and related compounds are Halogen- FIGURE 1 - Chemical Structure of Dioxins, Furans & PCB ated Aromatic chemicals with similar chemical & physical properties and structures commonly
known as polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), olychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs). Around 419 types dioxins have been identifi ed of which approximately 30 are considered
to have signifi cantly high toxicity. Out of these 2, 3, 7, 8-tetrachlorodibenzo-paradioxin (TCDD) is the most toxic.

Dioxins are released unintentionally in various industrial processes such as waste incinerations, ferrous and nonferrous metal production, heat and power generation, production of mineral products, transportation etc. Uncontrolled combustion like forest fi re/open burning of waste /accidental fi re etc. also contributes to the dioxins release.

Dioxins are trans-boundary in nature and can travel a long distance from the source of emission and bio accumulates in the food chain.
Through the food chain, they enter the human body and deposit in the fatty tissues for the long periods and cause serious health hazard. The dioxins are generally associated with various health aliments including skin lesions, reproductive disorders, endocrine disruptors, and cancer.

We plan to do einterviews with MBBS doctors to understand 4 things
1) Tests or questions you ask in first few meetings
2) What it means in medical terms
3) What it means in non medical terms
4) What should the patient or care takers do

We might interview Aurvedic doctors, homeopathic doctors, Yoga teachers on this health issue

Video links
Impact of dioxin on human health

What Does Dioxin Do To The Body?

Health effects of dioxins
Brief sponsor information