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Carcinogen Risk For Hutt Residents

Green MP Sue Kedgley is calling on the Wellington Regional Council to undertake dioxin testing to establish whether or not dangerous carcinogens are present at the Lower Hutt sites where Agent Orange chemicals were allegedly dumped some 30 years ago.

"We need to be sure that residents in surrounding areas have not been exposed to dioxin contamination which could pose a threat to their health," Ms Kedgley said.

Dioxins are the most toxic synthetic chemical known to science, and even minute amounts of some dioxins can cause cancer, she said.

"Dioxins do not degrade, but build up and accumulate in the environment for decades. They are amongst the most toxic substances known to humans and there is no safe level of human exposure to them."

Ms Kedgley said dioxins were associated with a range of health problems including birth defects, hormonal disruption and infertility. Women and children face the greatest risk from dioxins, which accumulate in fat and can be passed on to babies through breast-feeding.

"While I congratulate the Wellington Regional Council for actively investigating the allegations rather than trying to sweep them under the carpet, no reassurances can be given to residents until dioxin tests have been carried out."

So far, the council had not found any evidence of the presence of herbicides such as 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D during site testing, but Ms Kedgley said this is because those herbicides would have long since broken down.

"The Council have taken samples from potentially contaminated sites and analysed them for the presence of herbicides and pesticides, but have not undertaken testing to see whether dioxin, a highly toxic breakdown product from these pesticides, is present," she said.

"It is particularly important that we establish there are no traces of TCDD, the most toxic form of dioxin, in the water or land surrounding the potentially contaminated areas," she said.

Ends


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