Dioxin in the news

Published April 1, 2001

New dioxin law shuts down 17 percent of Japan’s incinerators

Since the institution of its Dioxin Reduction Law in July 1999, Japan has either shut down or suspended operations of as many as 4,600 incinerators, representing 17 percent of the country’s operating incinerators.

According to BNA’s Daily Environment Report, the Japanese government set a national target to reduce by March 2003 domestic dioxin emissions by 90 percent compared with 1997 levels.

Virtually all of the shutdowns affect small and medium-sized incinerators. Although Japanese officials say closing incinerators that do not meet emission standards is a welcome development, they are concerned about the possibility of illegal dumping and export of industrial waste.

Possible dioxin benefits for breast cancer research

Toxicologists at Texas A&M University are studying dioxin’s ability to inhibit estrogen’s facilitation of the growth of breast cancer cells. Based on this research, a team of scientists led by Dr. Stephen Safe is hoping to produce chemicals that mimic dioxin’s interference with estrogen–working in the same way, without the potential toxicity of dioxin.

While studying the effect of dioxin on liver cancer in rats, scientists noted some “odd and interesting” effects, says Safe. In addition to observing much lower levels of breast cancer in rats exposed to dioxin, Safe also noted the chemical seemed to cause a decreased immune response in mice, but an increased response in rats. While guinea pigs showed negative effects from dioxin exposure, Safe reported, hamsters seemed to have no response to the chemical.