Dioxin Levels In The Irish Environment

Third Assessment (Summer 2004) Based on Levels in Cows’ Milk

Summary: Dioxin levels in Ireland in 2004 were 33% lower than in 1995 and 20% lower than in 2000. The survey confirmed that dioxin levels in Ireland remain among the lowest in Europe. The findings are based on a survey of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds in cow’s milk.

Published: 2005

ISBN: 1-84095-172-9

Pages: 54

Filesize: 505KB

Price: Free to download / €10 for a printed version

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Executive summary

In line with the Agency’s intention to maintain surveillance of dioxins and dioxin-like compounds, it was decided to carry out in Summer 2004 a follow-up survey to the 1995 and 2000 dioxin cow’s milk surveys (EPA 1996, EPA 2001).

“Dioxins" is a collective term for the category of 75 polychlorinated dibenzo-paradioxins (PCDDs) and 135 polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and arise mainly as unintentional by-products of incomplete combustion and from certain chemical processes. Seventeen PCDD and PCDF compounds are likely to be of toxicological significance. The most toxic of these 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, cows' 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.

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