Dioxins are a group of chemicals unintentionally produced through industrial processes involving chlorine. Dioxin poisoning poses a serious threat to human health, and is produced through waste incineration, pulp and paper bleaching, backyard burn barrels, chemical production and other industrial processes. Dioxin poison is also the primary compound in the herbicide "Agent Orange".

Brent Cordell

Personal Injury Attorney

Dioxin has become so pervasive in the environment that virtually everyone is exposed to some degree of this toxic compound.

If you or a loved one have fallen ill as the result of exposure to dioxin, filing a lawsuit against the companies responsible may give victims the opportunity to recover financial compensation for medical care, lost earnings, pain, suffering and future losses. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a dioxin exposure expert: we are on your side.

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What are Dioxins?

Dioxins are a group of toxic environmental pollutants that occur during the manufacture or incineration of chlorine-containing substances such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), in the chlorine bleaching of paper, and from natural sources such as volcanoes and forest fires. They belong to a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The chemical name for dioxin is: 2,3,7,8- tetrachlorodibenzo para dioxin (TCDD). Some 419 types of dioxin-related compounds have been identified but only about 30 of these are considered to have significant toxicity, with TCDD being the most toxic.

How Are We Exposed to Dioxins?

There have been many incidents of dioxin pollution resulting from industrial emissions and accidents dating as far back as the Industrial Revolution; dioxin is also the primary chemical compound found in Agent Orange, a herbicide used extensively in military conflicts to clear vegetation.

Primarily airborne, dioxins are found in the air, soil, and in meats and dairy with high percentages of fat. Dioxins are also unwanted by-products of a wide range of manufacturing processes including smelting, chlorine bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacturing of some herbicides and pesticides. In terms of dioxin release into the environment, uncontrolled waste incinerators (solid waste and hospital waste) are often the worst culprits due to the incomplete burning of plastics.

For information on other dangerous products, pharmaceuticals and toxic waste please visit Harmful-Products.com

Dioxin poison found in food accounts for ninety-six percent of all cases of human exposure. Red meats (beef) and dairy products are most heavily burdened with dioxin poison, which account for the vast majority of dioxin poison contaminated food sources. Factory workers in particular are at risk for exposure to dioxins, especially since those workers not only work in an environment susceptible to dioxin release but may also consume local food that has also been exposed.

Dioxin accumulates in breast milk because it readily dissolves in the milk's rich fat content. Dioxin poisoning can pass from a mother to a child if the mother has been exposed to dioxin and chooses to breast feed the child. Ninety-five percent of the dioxin poison present in breast milk is transmitted to a baby, thereby posing a significant health threat to infant children. Dioxin poison can also be transferred to a fetus during pregnancy, which can result in birth defects. As compared to the general population, children and infants are at a greater risk of developing adverse health problems due to higher levels of dioxin poison exposure.

People at particular risk for developing health problems caused by dioxin poison include young children, people who work or live near industrial or contaminated sites or products, and people who rely heavily on dioxin laden foods as their main source of sustenance. Dioxin poison takes years to break down in the body, allowing for the ill effects of this toxin to pose a threat to human health for most, if not all, of the human lifespan.

What Are the Effects of Dioxin Exposure?

Immediate symptoms of significant dioxin exposure include severe abdominal pains, nausea and vomiting.
Short-term exposure to high levels of dioxins may result in skin lesions such as chloracne and dark skin patches. It may also be implicated in altered liver function.
Long-term exposure is linked to impairment of the immune system, the developing nervous system, the endocrine system and reproductive functions. Chronic exposure of animals to dioxins has resulted in several types of cancer.

In 2009 The U.S. Institute of Medicine released a report citing sufficient evidence of association between exposure to Dioxins in Agent Orange and five specific illnesses: soft-tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia (including hairy-cell leukemia), Hodgkin's disease, and chloracne. The report also found evidence suggesting an association with prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, amyloidosis (abnormal protein deposits), Parkinson's disease, porphyria cutanea tarda (a blood and skin disorder), ischemic heart disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, peripheral neuropathy, cancer of the larynx, lung, bronchea or trachea, and spina bifida in exposed people's offspring.

What if I Have Dioxin Poisoning?

Although dioxins are far too prevalent in our modern environment, cases of actual dioxin poisoning are fortunately rare. They can, however, occur both in people working in industries that may produce dioxins and in the general populace if proper safety precautions are not abided by when dealing with dioxin producing materials and substances.

The clinical recognition of dioxin-associated illness can be extremely difficult for a physician, although tests are available to measure dioxins in the blood. Since there are no standard reference values that define a "normal" level of exposure and the test does not indicate the length or the possible health effects associated with an exposure, the results are difficult to interpret and of little use clinically.
Treatments can be given to address skin conditions, liver damage (depending on the state of advancement) and to lower the level of dioxins in the blood.

Companies in the USA that incinerate or produce substances capable of emitting dioxins, provide food or other products that have a probablity of dioxin contamination, or that handle, store, transport or otherwise deal with substances or materials that contain high levels of dioxins have an obligation to conform to various federal, state and local regulations. Failing this, they may be liable to pay compensation to people who have been victimized through their actions or products.

If you think that you have been exposed to dangerous levels of dioxins, you may be able to pursue a case of negligence. You will need to get trained medical testimony confirming that your problems are directly related to dioxin poisoning. You will also need evidence that can incriminate the responsible party.

"Toxic Tort" is a term used to describe an ever-increasing area of the law covering topics as diverse as asbestos, lead poisoning, tobacco, and exposure to contaminated groundwater and toxic mold. Although both state and federal governments are pushing for tort reform in an attempt to limit the explosion of toxic tort litigation and the large damage awards that come with it, toxic tort cases continue to expand into new areas.

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome at the outset of a toxic tort case is deciding who to name as defendants. Toxic contamination can occur from more than one source, and it may not always be evident who is responsible at the beginning of the case.

Brent Cordell can explain what you can expect at every step of your personal injury case, and will take action on your behalf -researching the law, interviewing witnesses, collecting records, conferring with expert consultants, planning legal strategy, and negotiating with insurers and opposing counsel- all with an eye toward strengthening your position and ensuring your fair recovery.

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Learn more about Dioxins:
  1. Dioxin: Summary of the Dioxin Reassessment Science Information sheet 1
    - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency(EPA)
  2. Dioxins and their effects on human health
    - World Health Organizaion (WHO)