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


Environment And Conservation: Changes To Our Oceans Pose Serious Concerns

New Zealand’s oceans, coasts, and marine wildlife are under growing pressure, according to the first national report from the Ministry for the Environment and Statistics New Zealand about the marine environment. More>>


Police Authority: Use Of Taser Was Disproportionate And Unjustified

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that an officer’s second use of a Taser on a mentally unwell Hokitika man was disproportionate and unjustified. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Holidays, Hekia Parata And Badlands

Hekia Parata, adieu. Reportedly, she’s been ‘passionate’ about education. She has “bravely’ led the charge on the government’s education reforms. In the past week , many of the postscripts to Hekia Parata’s career as Education Minister have sounded like a schoolteacher desperately trying to find some reason why a D student can be marked up to C minus. More>>


Minister of Finance: Plan Shows $100 Billion Infrastructure Projects

Finance Minister Bill English has today launched the Government’s Ten Year Capital Intentions Plan (CIP) which shows a pipeline of $100.9 billion worth of infrastructure projects over the next decade. More>>


Werewolf: Safe Landings Gordon Campbell on the safety challenge to the Wellington runway extension.

The safety-related legal challenge revolves around the size of the 90 metre long Runway End Safety Area (RESA) being proposed for the runway extension. More>>


Environment Commissioner: We Need To Work Together On Climate Change And Farming

“The debate around agricultural emissions and the ETS has been polarised for too long,” said the Commissioner. “But the ETS is not the only way forward – there are other things that can be done.” More>>


NZ Super Fund: Seeking To Put A Market Price On Climate Change

Oct. 19 (BusinessDesk) - The New Zealand Superannuation Fund says it will devise a set of rules to assess investment winners and losers under climate change, a strategy that could rule out fossil fuels or producers such as current portfolio member Exxon ... More>>


Rejuvenation: Parata Will Not Contest 2017 Election

Education Minister and National List MP Hekia Parata has today announced that she will not be contesting the next election. She advised the Prime Minister of her decision earlier this year. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news