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Dioxins - Health Hazards

Submitted by Stella Morgan on July 12, 2007

A group of chemical compounds that are classified as being polychlorinated dibenzodioxins or PCDDs is what is known as dioxin. It is a group of toxic chemicals that belong to the halogenated organic compound family. There are about 75 dioxin compounds known to man, seven of which are labelled toxic by NATO.

How are dioxins produced? When organic chemicals and materials are burned, with chlorine present they give out dioxin.

The major sources of dioxin based on the most recent data by the US EPA are the firing utilities for coal, smelting of metal, trucks that use diesel as fuel, land filled sewage sludge, the burning of treated wood, and barrels where trash is burned. All these sources contribute to a staggering 80% of the present concentration of dioxin in the Earth. Dioxins are also produced when paper or textiles are being bleached.

The more the chlorine content in the procedures being done, the higher the dioxin being produced. When triclosan, an antimicrobial compound commonly found in houses, are broken down photo-chemically, dioxin is also created. Dioxin is also present in cigarette smoke, which is also a main cause of cancer.
Whenever you heat up Styrofoam cups or plastic containers, even if it is indicated that it is microwave safe, the high temperature allows dioxin and dioxin like compounds to be released into the food it contains.

It may be very minute amounts that are transmitted into the food for our ingestion but an accumulation of these toxic chemicals can pose a greater risk on the person and may lead to severe conditions such as cancer, and other conditions wherein the endocrine system is disrupted. Even using the autoclave to clean plastic containers may lead to the production of dioxin in these containers and spread in the air.

According to Japanese research, dioxin and its sister compounds like phthalates and bisphenol-A are produced in temperatures reaching 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

It is more common for clear plastic containers to contain these cancer causing toxic chemicals rather that the translucent or opaque ones. Although stricter rules are now being implemented in the use of chemicals, it is still noticed that some do not do anything about it.
When dioxins accumulate in the fatty tissue from constant exposure to it, even in small amounts, it builds up until it reaches dangerous levels affecting different body systems especially the reproductive and immune system. It may also cause abnormalities in the dental development of a child, pathologies concerning the nervous system, thyroid disorders, and even diabetes.
To diminish or even avoid these negative effects on the body, do not heat up food in Styrofoam or plastic containers inside the microwave. Even containers that are said to be “microwave safe” still pose a risk on the health and wellbeing of a person. Use a microwave-safe glass or ceramic container instead. And if you truly want to avoid dioxin in your diet today to stop the risk of cancer that these toxic chemicals bring, do not use Styrofoam made plates, plastic containers, in the microwave or even placing hot foods in these containers. They can also place the risk of releasing dioxin into the atmosphere and for man to inhale. Dioxins are ever present especially in the environment. It is up to us to help in its prevention.

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