Issue Date: October 12, 2009
EPA Dismisses Dioxin Study
A scientific study of human exposure to dioxins downstream of Dow Chemical’s flagship plant is of “limited value” to regulators, according to EPA. The study, by researchers at the University of Michigan and funded by Dow on an unrestricted grant, finds that living on dioxin-contaminated soil does not contribute to the levels of polychlorinated dioxins in people’s blood. The results of the study were expected to influence the extent of the cleanup Dow will conduct in the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River, and Saginaw Bay downstream of the company’s plant in Midland, Mich. These waterways are contaminated with chlorinated furans and dioxins from the company’s manufacturing processes. Although EPA says the Michigan study is well conducted and provides credible information, the agency complains that its use will be limited because the study did not include exposure in children, and it is unclear what level of exposure was received by individuals living in highly contaminated areas. Dow is reviewing EPA’s critique of the University of Michigan study in detail, says Mary Draves, a Dow spokeswoman. EPA and Dow are working out a cleanup plan for the area and are expected to announce a proposed agreement in mid-October.
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