What is Dioxin?
Categorized with a dozen other extremely dangerous chemicals, dioxins are highly toxic, persistent organic pollutants. They are chlorinated compounds composed of three basic chemical groups, namely polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Common Sources of Dioxin Exposure
While this pollutant is produced naturally, the current levels of dioxin in the environment are largely due to human activities on a global scale. You can be exposed to dioxin and its adverse effects through the air, food, and water.
Dioxin and Water
Dioxins are stable chemical compounds. They do not break or disperse easily and are not dissolvable by water. The dioxins that enter the water surface become attached to its molecule, binding strongly and then eventually settling down as sediment.
Emissions from industrial combustion activities, waste incineration, and discharges, which are deposited into water bodies, result in the contamination of the water sources.
Dioxin and Food
Dixons are found almost everywhere in the environment. As persistent organic pollutants with a half-life of more than a decade, they tend to linger in the body for very long periods of time. Given their stability, dioxins can easily become absorbed and stored in the fatty tissue, which is where they are accumulated.
This absorption and accumulation in the fatty tissue is how dioxins enter the food chain.
Both aquatic and terrestrial animals consume feed that is contaminated with this organic pollutant. The dioxins consumed are accumulated into the animal’s fatty tissue. The subsequent intake of the animal fat by humans, either directly, or through its derivatives and other products, is said to be the most prominent way of dioxin toxicity in the body.
Dioxin and Air
The air we breathe is contaminated by the high levels of dioxin due to a large number of combustion processes releasing hazardous chemical components in the environment.
Much of the dioxins released in the air result from the incineration of waste from commercial, municipal, or medical industries. A majority of the industrial manufacturing processes release dioxin as a by-product. These processes include, but are not limited to:
- Chlorine bleaching of paper and pulp
- Pesticide and herbicide manufacturing
- PVC manufacturing
Other causes include smoking, burning of fuels such as coal, oil, and wood, and automotive fuel. Cement kilns, petroleum refining plants, and sewage sludge incinerators also heavily contribute to dioxin content in the environment.
Natural events, such as volcanoes and wildfires, also release dioxins in the air.
Dioxin and Its Impact on Human Health
Dioxins have a particularly toxic effect on human health, causing a number of adverse reactions. They can interfere with the essential regulatory cellular processes, resulting in grave alterations in the normal growth, development, and functionality of the body.
Dioxins have been listed as a carcinogen, known to cause a variety of cancers. They can cause hormonal changes, reproductive issues, pancreatic abnormalities, immune suppressions, and other diseases and conditions. High-level exposure to dioxins can also expedite diabetic changes, cause heart diseases and liver damage, and disrupt the normal functioning of the circulatory and respiratory systems.
Some symptoms of dioxin exposure include:
- Increased fatigue
- Urinary tract disorders
- Nausea and vomiting
- Persistent burning sensation in the throat, nose, and eyes
- Increased muscular and joint discomfort
ISO 14001 Compliance Course and Training
Employees who work in manufacturing industries or as firefighters, are more susceptible to developing dioxin toxicity than any other profession. Therefore, corporations and professionals who are at risk of prolonged dioxin exposure need to enroll in ISO 14001 compliance courses.
ISO 14001 training is essential for people employed within particular industries to understand and recognize the industry standards for their respective fields. The training, which is easily available online, covers a wide range of international practices and standards needed for effective environmental management.