A Midland resident and two Michigan-based environmental organizations petitioned the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) to conduct a public health assessment of dioxin
contamination in Midland, Michigan, and adjacent communities. The present public health consultation addresses floodplain soil contamination in the Tittabawassee River watershed downstream from the city of Midland. The data necessary to determine if dioxin-contaminated floodplain soil in the Tittabawassee River watershed poses a public health risk are not available; therefore, the site poses an indeterminate public health hazard. Health officials blame Dow Chemical Company for the contamination, which the manufacturer has accepted responsibility for.
Dioxin was detected at concentrations exceeding the ATSDR action level at several locations in the floodplain near the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers. Additional soil sampling is necessary to determine if nearby residential properties are similarly contaminated with dioxin.
A soil sampling study conducted by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) indicates that floodplain soil in Tittabawassee River watershed near and upstream of the confluence of the Tittabawassee and Saginaw Rivers is contaminated with dioxin. These data, along with dioxin levels detected in fish, indicate that dioxin contamination may be widespread throughout the Tittabawassee River watershed below Midland. Recent reports indicate that contamination levels may be 80 times higher than the state standard. The MDEQ recently ordered Dow to develop a remediation plan. More than 300 plaintiffs are suing Dow over contamination along the Tittabawassee.
Scientists and health experts are concerned about dioxins because studies have shown that exposure to them may cause a number of adverse health effects. The health effects associated with dioxins depend on a variety of factors including: the level of exposure, when someone was exposed, and how long and how often. The most noted health effect in people exposed to large amounts of dioxin is chloracne. Chloracne is a severe skin disease
-like lesions that occur mainly on the face and upper body. Other effects of exposure to large amounts of dioxin include skin rashes, skin discoloration, excessive body hair, and possibly mild liver damage
. One of the main health effects of concern for dioxins is cancer
in adults. Several studies suggest that workers who were exposed to high levels of dioxins at their workplace
over many years have an increased risk of cancer.
See your doctor if you have experienced serious health problems because of dioxin exposure. In addition, it may be important to contact an attorney
who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits
within which you must commence suit.
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