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Health Ministry says dioxin blood tests are valid

Media release

16 February 2001

Ministry of Health says dioxin blood tests are valid

THE Ministry of Health is confident that blood tests to measure dioxin levels among residents who lived near the former Ivon Watkins Dow plant in New Plymouth will be effective. The usefulness of blood tests has been questioned by some people

"The Ministry believes it is important that residents have confidence that we are using methods that will properly address their concerns. We have already talked with some residents and hope to continue talking with them so that we can fully understand their concerns before any testing proceeds," said Director of Public Health Dr Don Matheson.

He said blood tests had already been done effectively in New Zealand and elsewhere in the world and were used by the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer as a measure of dioxin exposure over time.

"The methodology for blood serum dioxin tests has been very well researched and peer reviewed by expert cancer researchers and toxicologists. It is accepted and used by international experts as a valid way to measure both current and past dioxin exposure," Dr Matheson said.

"However, if any of the Taranaki residents or their own independent advisors have concerns about these tests, we would like to discuss these concerns so that we can all reach agreement on the best way to proceed," Dr Matheson said.

The blood test survey will be part of a two-pronged response to the health concerns of local residents. The Ministry is also supporting the Taranaki Medical Officer of Health in his investigation into health concerns of local residents.

For further information contact; Angus Barclay, Media Advisor, Ministry of Health Tel: 04- 496-2067 Internet Address; http://www.moh.govt.nz

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