Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Reducing exposure to dioxins important - expert

11 October 2001

Media Statement

Reducing exposure to dioxins important, says visiting expert

A leading international environmental health specialist - in New Zealand to speak at the annual meeting of the Australia and New Zealand Society of Occupational Medicine - says measures that will reduce the exposure of New Zealanders to dioxin need to be implemented.

Professor Allan Smith MD, a New Zealander, has been Professor of Epidemiology in the School of Public Health at the University of California at Berkeley since 1983.

He made his comments today as the Ministry for the Environment released its proposed dioxin action plan, aimed at setting limits on the release of dioxin into our environment.

“Dioxins are very toxic and have been linked to significant health problems, including cancer. It is important that we do all we can to reduce our exposure to them.”

Dr Smith says that internationally, countries are reducing the amount of dioxin that they release, as is New Zealand and it is encouraging that New Zealand has taken the lead in assessing population exposure to dioxins.

“A survey conducted here in 1999, which identified what blood levels of dioxin are in the general population, is a model for other countries to follow.”

Dr Smith co-authored a report - released earlier this year by the Ministry for the Environment - that looked at dioxin health risks to the New Zealand population. Dioxin is an extremely toxic substance that is thought to be biologically active at very low levels in the body. In animals, the offspring of mothers exposed to dioxin has been found to have immune suppression, decreased sperm count, and a range of developmental and reproductive abnormalities.

“The concentration of dioxins in the animals in some of these studies was only about ten times higher than present in some New Zealanders. This is not an adequate margin of safety,” says Dr Smith.

A main recommendation of his report was that New Zealand should adopt a precautionary approach and that we should set a goal to reduce the level of ongoing exposure to dioxin.

Dioxin accumulates in the body over time, mainly from the food we eat. Dr Smith says that New Zealand research has clearly demonstrated that the older we are, the greater the

level in our body tissues. He says that dioxin body burdens carried by New Zealanders, even though lower than in North America and Europe, are still too high for comfort.

“The goal might be to reduce body burdens to about half current levels over the next decade, and for further reductions to continue in future years,” says Dr Smith. “This can only be achieved by reducing the level of dioxin that is being discharged into the environment in the first place.”

For more information, please contact:

Dr Allan Smith, email: ahsmith@uclink4.berkeley.edu

Karl Ferguson, media advisor, 04-917-7482 or 025-243-7486


© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation

Friday will be a big day for people north of Kaikōura – and for hundreds of construction workers who are racing to reopen State Highway 1 in time for the holiday season.

By the afternoon, the South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>

 

BPS HYEFU WYSIWYG: Labour's Budget Plans, Families Package

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021." More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Defence Spending, Alabama, And Dolly Parton

The spending lavished on Defence projects to meet the risks that could maybe, possibly, theoretically face New Zealand in future is breath-taking, given how successive governments have been reluctant to spend even a fraction of those amounts on the nation’s actual social needs. More>>

ALSO:

Members' Bills: End Of Life Choice Bill Passes First Reading

The End of Life Choice Bill in the name of David Seymour has been sent to a select committee for consideration by 76 votes to 44. It is the third time Parliament has voted on the issue in recent decades and the first time such a Bill has made it over the first hurdle. More>>

ALSO:

State Sector: MPI Survives Defrag Of Portfolios

The Ministry for Primary Industries will not be split under the new government, but will instead serve as an overarching body for four portfolio-based entities focused on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Vulnerable Kids, RNZ Funding, And Poppy

The decision to remove the word ‘vulnerable’ from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children could well mark a whole shift in approach to the care of children in need... More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages