Houk of the CDC argued that EPA standards for dioxin should be
relaxed. He was speaking at a conference sponsored by Syntex,
which was being sued in over 350 dioxin-related lawsuits. His
statements were influential as he had been the public official
who had called for the permanent evacuation of 2000 residents
of Times beach, Missouri after dioxin contaminated oil had been
sprayed there as a dust suppressant in the 1970s. At the time
75 horses and several cats and dogs had died. (Casten 1992; Cullton
1991; Montague 1991)
Houk was saying that those people had been evacuated needlessly:
summary, with the exception of chloracne... there are no convincing
data for the association of dioxin exposure in humans, with early
mortality, adverse reproductive outcomes, or chronic diseases
of the liver or of the immune, cardiovascular, or neurologic systems.
The overall cancer question is not settled, but if dioxin is a
human carcinogen, it is, in my view, a weak one that is associated
only with high-dose exposures. (Houk 1992, p. 13)
was quoted and cited extensively in the media. However when Houk
was called before a congressional subcommittee to answer allegations
of "improperly aiding the paper industry's campaign to loosen
restrictions on dioxin pollution in water" he admitted that his
proposals to relax dioxin standards were "taken practically verbatim
from paper industry documents" (Quoted in Monks 1993). This did
little damage to his credibility in the media, which had its own
links with the paper industry.
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'Dioxin Charade Poisons the Press', Extra! (January/February),
Barbara J. 1991, 'US government orders new look at dioxin', Nature,
Vol. 352, No. 29 August, p. 753.
Vernon N. 1992, 'Dioxin', Consumers' Research (February),
Vicki, 'See no evil', American Journalism Review, Vol.
15, No. 5 (1993), pp. 18-25.
Peter, 1991, Dioxin
Dangers - What's Going On?, Rachel's
Hazardous Waste News, No. 249.
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