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Dioxin health effects

Among many toxic chemicals accumulating in our tissues are dioxins: a group of chemicals created as by-product of chlorine combined with oxygen, hydrogen and heat, either in industrial production or incinerators. From their sources, dioxins are released into the air and waters. They attach to particulates (dust), which is their primary way of spreading through the environment. Dioxins are not water soluble, and bacteria won't touch them; thus they tend to form sediments in soils and water beds.

Dioxin is also a contaminant in many PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and in herbicide 2,4,5-T (known as Agent Orange).

Human exposure to dioxins can cause slow development (both, physical and mental, especially motivation), as well as reproductive and immune dysfunction. It is also strongly indicated that dioxins promote cancer, by making its proliferation easier (in other words, they do not create cancer cells, but do create favorable conditions for their expansion).

Both, official figures on the degree of contamination, and limit to the acceptable daily intake (ADI) for dioxins vary widely from one country to another.

For instance, dioxin ADI varies from 0.01pg/kg (picogram - one trillionth of a gram - per kg of body weight) per day with the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), to 0.1pg/kg with the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and 10pg/kg with the WHO (World Health Organization).

With the average daily intake of dioxins estimated at 3-16pg/kg per day, there seems to be much of a reason for the concern. Not only that the level of dioxins we ingest is much higher than the safe limit given by both, EPA and FDA, there are literally hundreds of other toxins littering our bodies, which certainly makes acceptable limit for every single one of them much lower than in the theoretical official scenario in which only one toxin at the time is present.

More than anything else, it is the infinitesimally small amounts of dioxin considered acceptable health-wise that illustrate its enormous toxicity. In fact,

dioxins are among the most potent poisons known to man.

Dioxin's half-life in humans is estimated at 5 years, which means that it will take approximately as long for the body to dispose of half of dioxins present in your body (yes, every single human is already contaminated by them).

Dioxins don't dissolve in water, thus don't get assimilated by plants in any appreciable degree.

Almost all of the human intake of dioxin comes from food -

about 90% from dairy, meat (especially fats), fish
and related products -

and about 8% from plants. The rest of about 2% comes from direct inhalation and skin absorption.

Most of dioxins accumulated in the body are stored with other toxins, in body fat, from which minute amounts leach out. Part of it is excreted; the rest stays and poisons the body. Degree of exposure to dioxins can vary significantly from one area, or even locality, to another, mainly depending on the degree of the environmental contamination and dietary habits. Population in underdeveloped regions is, in general, less affected.

As with most other major pollutants, reduction in dioxin emissions is certainly possible. However, there is only so much of production and functional constraints that the society - or at least the decision makers - are willing to accept. Realistically, significant reduction in the level of environmental contamination in general, and dioxin contamination in particular, can only be achieved as a result of longer-term technological changes, inadvertently eliminating sources of contamination.

In the meantime, you can minimize your dioxin exposure by minimizing your animal food intake and by moving away from known sources of dioxin pollution. You can minimize effect of dioxins - and other toxins you are exposed to - by making your detox system as efficient as possible. And you can lower the level of accumulated toxins - including dioxins - through body detox techniques. Any of them could help, but the one that seems to be making significant difference for dioxins in particular is infrared sauna10.