Dioxin Levels In The Irish Environment 2000 Report

Second Assessment (Summer 2000) based on levels in cow's milk

Summary: Survey of dioxin levels in cow's milk confirms the uniformly low levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in the Irish environment.

Published: 2001

ISBN: 1-84095-056-0

Pages: 33

Filesize: 964KB

Format: pdf

Download now

Executive summary

In line with the EPA’s intention to maintain surveillance of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, it was decided to carry out a follow-up survey to the 1995 dioxin cow’s milk survey (EPA 1996) in Summer 2000.

“Dioxins" is a collective term for the category of 75 polychlorinated dibenzo-para-dioxins (PCDDs) and 135 polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and arise mainly as unintentional by-products of incomplete combustion and from certain chemical processes. The PCDD and PCDF compounds which are likely to be of toxicological significance are those 17 compounds with chlorine atoms at the 2,3,7 and 8 positions, the most toxic of which is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (2,3,7,8-TCDD). The toxic responses include dermal effects, immunotoxicity and carcinogenicity, as well as reproductive and developmental toxicity.

Given that the primary mechanism for dioxins entering the food chain is through atmospheric deposition, cow's milk is considered to be a particularly suitable matrix for assessing their presence in the environment since cows tend to graze over relatively large areas and these compounds will, if present, concentrate in the fat content of the milk.

In order to conform to current practice, testing for dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was included in this programme.