The Associated Press State & Local Wire, August 15, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: A new study shows that people living near Dow Chemical's headquarters in Midland, Michigan are contaminated with dioxin, one of the two or three most potent poisons known to science.]

By John Flesher, AP Environmental Writer

Residents of some areas near the Dow Chemical Co. plant in Midland, Mich., have higher levels of dioxins in their bodies than people studied elsewhere, a University of Michigan study found [13 Mbytes PDF]. [The study has its own web site.]

The report, released Tuesday, is "the first major study to show exactly how much exposure to dioxin people have in this area and how the dioxins get into their bodies," said David Garabrant, an epidemiologist and specialist in occupational and emergency medicine, who led the inquiry.

Dow funded the study, which focused on sections of Midland and Saginaw counties near its plant. Dioxins, a group of toxins, were generated by company processes over several decades. One of the chemicals is known to cause cancer.

The study found that people in one of the areas studied, the Tittabawassee River floodplain, had 28 percent higher median levels of "dioxin-like chemicals" in their blood than members of a comparison group in Jackson and Calhoun counties.

Those counties were chosen because they are near the Midland-Saginaw area but more than 100 miles from the plant.

Older people tended to have higher dioxin levels, the study found.

It also linked the elevated levels with eating foods such as fish from tainted waters and living where the soil is contaminated.