Chemical Weapons Working Group
P.O. Box 467
Berea, KY 40403
(859) 986-7565 (2695 -fax)
for more information contact:
Craig Williams (859) 986-7565
for immediate release: June 13, 2000
Dioxin In Our Food: A Public Health Emergency
CWWG joins 178 Groups Calling on Clinton-Gore Administration to
Adopt a Dioxin-Free Diet for Polluters
This year, according to a new US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report, a
minimum of 4,000 people in the United States will get cancer from dioxin, at least ten new
cases every day. Dioxin will also cause an unknown number of children to be born with
birth defects, suppressed immune systems and learning disabilities. Adults will develop
diabetes, endometriosis and heart disease because of dioxin exposure.
"Americans are getting sick from dioxin in fish, meat, eggs and dairy products. Even breast
milk is being contaminated by this dangerous chemical," said Craig Williams, director of
the Chemical Weapons Working Group. "This is a food poisoning crisis - a public health
emergency - that demands action from the Administration." The Chemical Weapons
Working Group (CWWG), a national coalition advocating safe, non-incineration disposal of
chemical weapons, joins 178 groups from all over the U.S. in this demand.
The new EPA report, leaked last month to the Washington Post, is based on more than
5,000 scientific studies on dioxin, an unintended by-product that is created when chlorine
and chlorine-containing chemicals are manufactured and when chlorine-containing
materials are burned. According to EPA, the largest sources of dioxin releases to air result
from the burning of municipal waste, medical waste and hazardous wastes in incinerators
and cement kilns.
Since the 1970s, dioxin levels in the environment have declined. According to the new EPA
report, improvements in combustion and emission controls on incinerators, the closing of a
number of incineration facilities, elimination of most open burning, phase out of leaded
gas, and bans on PCBs, the herbicide 2,4,5-T, hexachlorophene and restrictions on uses of
pentachlorophenol led to this decline.
EPA's report fails to mention a dominant factor in the decline of dioxin levels: community
activism. For example, the popular opposition to incineration, the largest source of dioxin,
has blocked the building of at least 191 incinerators and led to the closing of 59 operating
incinerators. In the Army's chemical weapons disposal program, plans for incinerators in
Maryland and Indiana were scrapped in favor of neutralization-based disposal technologies.
The federal Assembled Chemical Weapons Assessment (ACWA) program has successfully
demonstrated two non-incineration disposal technologies, and will demonstrate three
additional technologies beginning this Summer.
"But dioxin levels are still too high, at least ten times too high for our food to be safe,"
explained Jason Groenewold, director of the Utah group Families Against Incinerator Risks,
which opposes the burning of chemical weapons stored in Tooele, Utah. "We need more
bans and phase outs of dioxin-producing practices and products. We need to abandon the
incineration of chemical weapons and other wastes in favor of non-incineration
technologies which do not release dioxins into the environment." "EPA
Administrator Carol Browner and other government officials are recommending that
we solve the dioxin problem by eating more fruits and vegetables, which is good advice,"
added the CWWG's Williams, "but you can't eat your way out of the dioxin problem. The
Clinton Administration should be putting dioxin-polluting industries on a strict diet aimed
at getting dioxin out of our air and water. If they start the diet now, in time, our families
will be safe from dioxin food poisoning."
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More information on EPA's dioxin report and the Dioxin-Free Diet is available on
request. Or, click on the Center for Health, Environment and Justice on our Links page.
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