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Ministry Blunders Again Over Dioxin Blood Testing

Ministry Blunders Again Over Dioxin Blood Testing

T James Sprott OBE --- 10 Combes Road
MSc PhD FNZIC --- Remuera
Consulting Chemist --- Auckland 5
Forensic Scientist --- NEW ZEALAND

Phone & Fax: 64-9-5231150

16 February 2001



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Dr Jim Sprott has drawn attention to a major fallacy in the Ministry of Health's rationale for blood testing of New Plymouth residents to determine levels of dioxin in the body.

The Ministry stated yesterday that blood testing would reliably indicate dioxin levels accumulated by New Plymouth residents, because blood contains fat into which dioxins are absorbed and total body burden of dioxin could be calculated from the concentration in blood fat.

This reasoning by the Ministry is fallacious with respect to the New Plymouth situation.

While blood testing may be useful to gauge exposure to present ambient levels of dioxin, blood testing is quite ineffective to assess long-term accumulation of dioxin in people who have had prolonged exposure to the chemical.

"The Ministry is quite right that there is fat in blood", said Dr Sprott. "But blood fat is not the fat in which dioxin from long-term exposure is accumulated. Long-term exposure to dioxin results in accumulation in adipose fat tissue, and adipose fat is not re-distributed into the blood."

"Therefore, blood testing is a very unreliable method of assessing dioxin levels in residents who may have been exposed for decades to high levels of dioxin sourced from the Ivon Watkins-Dow plant."

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