Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Dioxin Levels In NZ Comparably Low

The ambient levels of dioxin in New Zealand are incredibly low by world standards.

Only the Antarctic has lower ambient levels.

Therefore the levels of dioxin in New Zealand blood is incrediby low.

Before people rush to judgment we should be comparing the dioxin levels in these tested people in New Zealand with levels in Japan and Scandinavia where ambient levels can be 100 times higher than in New Zealand.

Until we have that comparison we do not know if these people are suffering from dioxin 'poisoning' or not.

What if their levels turn out to be 100 times lower than the levels in Japanese blood - given that the Japanese life expectancy is so much greater than ours.

I am astonished that no one has raised this point.

There is a general perception out there that NZ has high levels of dioxins in our environment whereas the opposite is true.

A piece I wrote a couple of years ago in the NBR follows:

Dioxin – the unholy fear.

A few years ago a group of scientists investigated the presence of dioxins in New Zealand’s soil, water and air.

Dioxins are the doomcasters’ favourite toxic chemical even though there is no death certificate in the world which records dioxin poisoning as the cause of death.

Anyhow the scientists did their work well and found we have far and away the lowest levels of ambient dioxin in the developed world.

When I say lower I mean much, much lower.

Our levels of dioxin in urban air are typically about 50 times lower than those of Japan, Poland and the United States. Our rural ambient levels are 1,000 times lower than those of parts of Japan, Taiwan and even Australia. The level of dioxin in our fish is 1,000 times lower than in those of Canada, and Germany.

Having read this wonderful news I phoned an officer in the MfE and suggested we could now close down the programme, and spend the money on something useful. I soon was told that this is not how things work in Wellington. I learned that such low levels are a comparative advantage and so we should spend heaps to make them even lower.

To get the ball rolling the Ministry's Report on these findings boldly announced that one third of our dietary intake of dioxins comes from consuming dairy products.

Naturally this dreadful news was trumpeted in Parliament and true patriots sent the good news around the world. (In envirospeak, good news is bad news and bad news is good news).

I could find nothing in the data to back up this frightening claim.

Finally I telephoned one of the scientists and popped the question – “How come?”

He explained that even with modern technology they had found no dioxin in our dairy products.

“Hold on” I said, “the Ministry’s report says that our dairy foods are full of it.”

He explained that the international convention rules that if something is “undetectable” we should assume that it is present at half the detectable limit.

These detectable limits are low. For example, the level of standardised dioxin in the air in our rural areas can be as low as one fentogram of dioxin per cubic metre of air. If we were measuring time, this would be the equivalent of one second in 32,000 million years. The universe is only about 12,000 million years old.

But because there is so little dioxin in anything else we eat, and because we do eat a lot of dairy food, the Ministry for the Environment can actually imply that our dairy products are contaminated.

Fonterra should sue.

The story has now moved to its inevitable conclusion.

The MfE is now proposing that to reduce the levels of pastoral dioxins even further, farmers should no longer be allowed to incinerate their household rubbish on the farm. The plastics produce dioxins. So do forest fires, but never mind.

Where will this rubbish go? The folk in Wellington hope this rule will discourage waste and encourage recycling. I suspect some will be recycled onto the roadside.

Most farmers will carry on burning their domestic waste.

This offence will be impossible to monitor evenhandedly and so citizens will be encouraged to dob in any offenders.

Those people who move into the country seeking Arcadia will have yet another excuse to persecute their productive neighbours.

That’s how “political” science works.

Owen McShane

Director, Centre for Resource Management Studies

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

I Sing The Highway Electric: Charge Net NZ To Connect New Zealand

BMW is turning Middle Earth electric after today announcing a substantial contribution to the charging network Charge Net NZ. This landmark partnership will enable Kiwis to drive their electric vehicles (EVs) right across New Zealand through the installation of a fast charging highway stretching from Kaitaia to Invercargill. More>>

ALSO:

Watch This Space: Mahia Rocket Lab Launch Site Officially Opened

Economic Development Minster Steven Joyce today opened New Zealand’s first orbital launch site, Rocket Lab Launch Complex 1, on the Mahia Peninsula on the North Island’s east coast. More>>

Earlier:

Marketing Rocks!
Ig Nobel Award Winners Assess The Personality Of Rocks

A Massey University marketing lecturer has received the 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for economics for a research project that asked university students to describe the “brand personalities” of three rocks. More>>

ALSO:

Nurofen Promotion: Reckitt Benckiser To Plead Guilty To Misleading Ads

Reckitt Benckiser (New Zealand) intends to plead guilty to charges of misleading consumers over the way it promoted a range of Nurofen products, the Commerce Commission says. More>>

ALSO:

Half A Billion Accounts, Including Xtra: Yahoo Confirms Huge Data Breach

The account information may have included names, email addresses, telephone numbers, dates of birth, hashed passwords (the vast majority with bcrypt) and, in some cases, encrypted or unencrypted security questions and answers. More>>

ALSO:

Rural Branches: Westpac To Close 19 Branches, ANZ Looks At 7

Westpac confirms it will close nineteen branches across the country; ANZ closes its Ngaruawahia branch and is consulting on plans to close six more branches; The bank workers union says many of its members are nervous about their futures and asking ... More>>

Interest Rates: RBNZ's Wheeler Keeps OCR At 2%

Reserve Bank governor Graeme Wheeler kept the official cash rate at 2 percent and said more easing will be needed to get inflation back within the target band. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sci-Tech
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news