NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 27, 2004

Dioxin has gained media attention since Ukrainian presidential candidate Viktor Yuschchenko was poisoned with the chemical. Alarmists refer to it as "the most deadly chemical known," but such is not the case, says Michael Fumento of the Hudson Institute.

Dioxin is a byproduct of certain industrial processes such as incineration and bleaching. Humans carry small amounts of dioxin in their fat and blood, but the myth of "deadly dioxin" began with an experiment with guinea pigs, who were fed 1,000 times as much before they died.

Even though large amounts killed guinea pigs, the facts are:

  • Yuschchenko carried about 6,000 times as much dioxin as the average person; furthermore, the skin disease brought about by dioxin is a result of direct contact with the skin.
  • Vietnam vets were monitored for high dioxin levels allegedly resulting from exposure to Agent Orange, but the Centers for Disease Control reports that the dioxin levels among Vietnam vets were similar to non-Vietnam vets.
  • The controversial Love Canal area, which was reportedly dioxin-contaminated decades ago, was blamed for various illnesses; but biologist Michael Gough notes that no studies have proven the link, despite clean-up projects that continue to cost U.S. industries.

Furthermore, worldwide studies examining the effect of dioxin on exposed workers or townspeople show no evidence that dioxin is a carcinogen (as the International Agency for Research on Cancer calls it).

Viktor Yuschchenko may not look that great for awhile, says Fumento, but he could have had it worse -- such as death by a few drops of strychnine or even a teaspoon of iron.

Source: Michael Fumento, "Viktory Over Alarmism," Tech Central Station, December 16, 2004.

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