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Last Edited: 5/13/2009

Dioxins: Technical Information for California Health Officials
Written: 05/01/03


Dioxin and dioxin-like chemicals have the potential to cause harm to public health. Dioxins are contami­nants of chlorinated chemicals and incineration emissions, and are structurally similar, share common biochemical mechanisms, and have similar toxic effects. They are widespread and long-lasting in the environment, accumulate in the food chain, and are biologically persistent in humans. While there are still controversies about human health effects at low doses, animal and occupational studies provide evidence suggesting adverse health effects at cur­rent levels of human exposure. Studies have established dioxin as a human carcinogen. Other studies sug­gest a possible role in a range of health problems, including immune dysfunction, and endocrine and neurological effects. There is increasing scientific attention on risks to children. These studies imply that children may be especially vulnerable.

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