Groups ask EPA to counter Dow-funded dioxin outreach
State environmental groups are calling on the EPA to respond to a Dow-Chemical funded mailer that downplays the risk of living amidst dioxin contamination.
In recent weeks the Dow-funded University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study has publicized a new report in which researchers claim that adults who live in areas contaminated with dioxin from operations at Dow’s Midland plant do not have elevated levels of the chemical in their blood. The report, which has been distributed to people throughout Saginaw and Midland, also claims the people who eat fish from the highly contaminated waters downstream from Dow don’t have higher dioxin levels.
On Monday I reported that public health experts are worried that the report is likely to confuse people.
The message seems at odds with the repeated state health advisories warning against contact with the soil of the Tittabawassee floodplain and against eating fish from the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers and Saginaw Bay.
In a Feb. 1 letter to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Director Lisa Jackson representatives from the Lone Tree Council, League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club and others wrote:
We believe the mailing by the University of Michigan was inappropriate and premature, inasmuch as it is clearly intended to influence public opinion before the new study has been published in a peer-reviewed journal and made available for public scrutiny. It also sends conflicting signals to the population, and interferes with and frustrates public health efforts to educate the public about legitimate health threats.
The groups urged EPA to conduct a review of the report and inform residents about its limitations.
EPA has not yet stated whether it plans to respond to the latest UMDES report.
In 2009 the agency conducted a formal review of the University of Michigan Dioxin Study and announced that it would be of limited value from a public health perspective because it failed to address dioxin exposure among children and did not adequately sample people who live on highly contaminated land or eat local fish.