Dioxin is one of the most toxic chemicals known to science. This is a serious public health threat since there is no safe level of exposure to dioxin. Dioxin is formed during various combustion processes: waste incineration, forest fires, backyard trash burning, industrial processes, etc. It may also occur naturally, from volcanic eruptions, for example.
How dioxin is formed?
Dioxin is usually found in soil and sediment, but also in water and air (even though its levels in air and water are significantly lower). However, dioxin isn’t a single chemical but rather a group of hundreds of chemicals found in human environment. It usually occurs from burning chlorine-based chemical compounds with hydrocarbons. Humans are exposed to dioxin when they eat food contaminated with these chemicals. Dioxin accumulates in fatty tissues exposing the individual to an increased risk of cancer, reproductive and developmental problems, as well as the risk of heart diseases and diabetes.
Dioxin in food
The main source of explosion to dioxin for humans is through the diet. This fat soluble toxin accumulates in the food chain and about 93% of all dioxin exposure in North America originates from meat and dairy products. Fish can also be saturated with dioxin. The toxin may accumulate in their bodies in a concentration that is about 100,000 times greater than those from the environment. Dioxin is a hydrophobic toxin that rapidly accumulates in fatty tissues of fishes rather than staying in the water. Pregnant and breastfeeding women can release dioxin from their body right into the body of developing fetus or a newborn child. Dioxin crosses the placenta and enters the body of a growing infant, or it binds to the fatty breast milk, finding a way from mother’s to child’s body.
To avoid dioxin exposure people should embrace vegan diet or limit their consumption of meat and dairy products. The lowest dioxin levels are found in the vegan diet. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also pay special attention to their nutrition and limit the sources of dioxin poisoning.
Effects of dioxin
Exposure to dioxin leads to the liver damage, changes in the heme metabolism, and problems with thyroid functions, diabetes and various immunological problems. It also causes diseases of the organs in the body, increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular problems, hormonal imbalances, menstrual problems, increased hair growth and facial cysts known as chloracne. Chloracne is probably caused by an excess growth in cell linings, leading to the production of more facial oils. The lesions are most frequently found on the cheeks, behind the ears, in the armpits and groin region.