Is Dioxin Hiding in Your Family’s Diet?
Dioxin is a highly toxic chemical which you and your family are likely exposed to every day without you even knowing it. Children, in particular, are susceptible to the risks of dioxin due to their smaller size and need for protein and fats to facilitate their growth. What are some sources of contamination and what can we do to protect out children from this threat?
Where it is found.
The number one food category for the human consumption of dioxin is meats. This makes sense due to the fact that it is easily absorbed by fatty tissue. It is estimated that 42% (as of 2001) of the dioxins in our diets come from meats, whether beef, pork, poultry, or lamb. Where possible, cut meat out of your diet in order to avoid this exposure. Other tips are to purchase leaner cuts of meat and trim as much fat as possible before cooking. Also, naturally leaner meats such as poultry will contain less dioxin than fattier meats like beef. Finally, avoid fast food restaurants who add fat to their meats in order to improve the flavor.
Butter, mild, and cheese are other high sources of dioxin in our diets, accounting for an estimated 17% (as of 2001). Choosing lower fat milk, butter, and cheese will help in this regard, as well. Also, using margarine made with vegetable oil rather than dairy will help as well.
3) Fruits and Vegetables.
Believe it or not, fruits and vegetables can contribute to our dioxin intake as well. This is because dioxin is an ingredient in various herbicides (IDPH) as well as pesticides. Choosing organic and locally grown produce will help to make sure you are getting pesticide-free fruits and vegetables and help to keep your family safe.
4) Other food sources.
These include things such as fish, eggs, and fats and oils. In all these sources contribute little to our total dioxin exposure, but they are potential sources and the best way to mitigate the potential harm from them is to monitor consumption.
Dioxin and infants.
It is estimated that a nursing infant ingests up to 77 times the daily level proposed by the EPA to be safe. This affects both infants who are breast-fed as well as those who are given formula, so it is especially urgent for the sake of our children that something be done to curb the production of dioxin and for the EPA to finish assessments it has begun into the long-term impact of dioxin to our health and to the health of our children. For mothers who are nursing, following some of the above guidelines to decrease your own dioxin exposure will help to lessen the threat to our precious children.
Much has been done over the past 30 years to protect our families from this threat — from research to rules and legislation — but much work still needs to be done to fully understand the threat of dioxin to our health and to reduce its impact on our food supply. Being knowledgeable is the first step to making good choices which will protect our families from this toxic threat.
To learn more about Dioxin and Food Contamination, you may want to check out:
The Environmental Working Group
American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD)
Environmental Justice Activists This site is maintained by Action PA which is a grassroots organization for environmental justice.
Isabella York became interested in all aspects of a healthy lifestyle including efforts to reduce exposure to environmental toxins through a desire to be the best mother for her son. She is working to spread the information to others who may be unaware about the potential harm in the everyday foods they are consuming. She is a full time mother and also works for Balsam Hill, a purveyor of artificial Christmas trees.