Dioxin levels safe in Ireland

The latest Irish Environment Protection Agency (EPA) report on dioxin levels shows that dioxin levels in Ireland are well below EU safety limits.

The report is based on 2009 testing and shows that measurements are back to acceptable levels since the 2008 feed contamination incident.

In 2008, dioxin contamination led to supermarkets removing Irish pork from the shelves.

The incident was traced back to animal feed supplied by Millstream Power Recycling Ltd, County Carlow which has been tainted with industrial oil.

Dioxins arise mainly as unintentional by-products of incomplete combustion and from certain chemical processes. They contaminate the environment as a by-product of activities such as burning of household waste, chlorine bleaching of wood pulp and cement kilns and coal fired power plants.

Some dioxins have little environmental significance but some possess high levels of toxicity and result in immunotoxicity and carcinogenicity, as well as reproductive and developmental toxicity.

The data is based on samples taken from the milk of grazing cows and the results compare Ireland favourably with the EU and other countries.

EPA Office of Environmental Assessment regional chemist, Dr. Colman Concannon, said: “The concentrations of dioxins were low by international standards and comparisons.

“A total of 37 samples were taken and the average level was less than 10% of the EU limit. This is the 7th such survey undertaken by the EPA since 1995 and the results are in line with the earlier studies.

“The survey confirms the continuing low levels of dioxins and dioxin-like substances in the Irish environment.”

Alison Brown

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