Study: Most Arctic Dioxins Come From U.S. [Archives:2000/45/Health]

November 6 2000

OTTAWAU.S. sources are the biggest contributor to the cancer-causing dioxins found in the eastern Arctic of Canada, according to a joint scientific study made available here recently. In all, up to 62 percent of dioxins traveling to Nunavut test sites came from U.S. sources, while Mexico and Canada contributed 30 percent and 8 percent respectively, the study illustrates. Nine of the top 10 contributors to dioxin deposited in Nunavut were from the United States, including three municipal waste plants in Minnesota, Iowa and Pennsylvania; three cement kilns in Michigan, Missouri and Nebraska; two iron plants in Indiana; and a copper smelter in Illinois.
The finding was cited to account for elevated levels of dioxin in the breast milk of local Inuit mothers. Although there are no significant sources of dioxin in Nunavut,or within 500 kilometers of its boundaries, dioxin concentration in Inuit mothers milk is twice the level observed in southern Quebec, says the study. The air-borne agents enter the food chain through animals such as caribou, marine mammals and fish, which are the chief food supply of Inuit people. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Commission for Environmental Cooperation conducted the study from July 1, 1996, to June 30, 1997, covering 44,091 dioxin sources, of which 16,729 were in Canada, 22,439 in the United States and 4,923 in Mexico.
The extremely detailed study, which used a new pollution-tracking method, made it possible to track a one-gram puff of dioxin wherever it went, the NAFTA environmental agency said. (Xinhua)