Dioxin Levels in the Irish Environment 2007

Fifth Assessment Based on Levels in Cow's Milk - Summer 2007

Summary: In order to maintain surveillance of dioxins, furans and other micro pollutants, the Environmental Protection Agency carried out in Summer 2007 a follow-up survey to the 1995, 2000, 2004 and 2006 surveys of dioxin in cows’ milk (EPA 1996, EPA 2001, EPA 2005, EPA 2007).

Published: 2008

ISBN: 978-1-84095-299-5

Pages: 40

Filesize: 2,665KB

Format: pdf

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"Dioxins" is a collective term for the category of 75 polychlorinated dibenzo-para-dioxin compounds (PCDDs) and 135 polychlorinated dibenzofuran compounds (PCDFs).  Seventeen PCDD and PCDF compounds are likely to be of toxicological significance.1 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. These compounds, or congeners, arise mainly as unintentional by-products of incomplete or poorly controlled combustion and from certain chemical processes. 

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 accordance with current practice, testing for dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)  was included for each sample. 

In view of increased international awareness of the issue of the presence in the environment of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and brominated dioxins, it was decided to repeat the 2006 sampling  for these substances at the same time as the dioxin survey.   Five samples, representative of different regions, were analysed.  Each sample consisted of three pooled samples from the dioxin survey.

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