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Letter to the Editor

September 21, 2007

Dear Mr. Wirtz,

Your editorial of September 17th entitled "Our View: EPA should finish its work" suggests that because the Agency's dioxin reassessment is not yet completed, dioxin toxicity remains open to serious scientific debate. This is simply not true.

EPA has extensive scientific knowledge on the toxicity of dioxin. Thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies have been published. No matter how you look at dioxin, one fact remains indisputable: dioxin is a highly toxic compound. In fact, EPA's reassessment of the most recent science indicated that dioxin is a more potent toxic chemical than previously believed. A recent University of Michigan study funded by Dow Chemical revealed that people consuming fish from the Tittabawassee River, Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay have higher than average levels of dioxin in their blood. Any increase in the dioxin levels of fish consumers is a health concern.

For more than 25 years, the State of Michigan has found it necessary to issue consumption advisories on fish from the Tittabawassee River, the Saginaw River and the Saginaw Bay because dioxin contamination extends over 50 miles. EPA believes that the current science on dioxin is sufficient to develop cleanup criteria for the watershed. Even without a final dioxin reassessment, EPA has moved forward with dioxin cleanups across the nation to protect public health.

The Midland Daily News is right to urge EPA to continue its work on a final dioxin reassessment and take into consideration comments provided by the National Academy of Science. And EPA is right to urge Dow Chemical to continue and accelerate its work to restore the Saginaw Bay watershed so that fish consumers will no longer need to be concerned about dioxin in the fish they eat.



Richard Karl, Director
Superfund Division
U.S. EPA Region 5

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