Dear Friend and Reader:
This resource is intended for journalists and other people who want to efficiently develop a working understanding of the dioxin problem. It’s a thing like no other.
Even if you read this whole presentation, you will have a few pieces to assemble — though it will be much easier knowing the background. I am doing my best to keep it down to a dull roar, and I will note when one entry leads to other resources. If you are looking for something or have questions, please ask in the comments.
First, why dioxin? This trace toxin of astounding potency is created in any environment where chlorine is available where there are burning hydrocarbons (from corn flakes to motor oil). That is what happened with the train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio: both chlorinated chemicals and ordinary cargo burned at the same time, multiplying the effect. The ash pit and the plume of smoke that spread and is gradually settling is certain to contain chlorinated dioxins, and yet these are not being tested for.
The demands are stepping up, though now the next step is making sure that the testing and analysis are honest. This is always a real game, as you will hear from the interviews and read in the articles below.
REAL TESTING INVOLVES SENDING SAMPLES FROM THE SAME LOCATION TO TWO LABS WORKING INDEPENDENTLY UNDER DIFFERENT CONTRACTS. THIS IS CALLED SPLIT SAMPLING. ANY OTHER TESTING IS SUBJECT TO MANIPULATION. AND BOTH DIOXINS AND DIBENZOFURANS MUST BE ANALYZED FOR.
The whole dioxin issue leads back to two conclusions
One, there is no safe level of exposure, so therefore, there is no acceptable level of contamination. Dioxin is a multigenerational genetic and hormonal toxin.
Two, public and corporate authorities will deny the problem and engage the public and the press in a complicated game of dissembling the truth, which in the past has included outright deception (including lying in scientific papers, to the press and in court), avoiding any accountability, filing fake lawsuits, burning down people’s homes, and by any other means necessary.
Therefore, those who are engaging public authorities on these issues need the help of experienced players. Those people exist. They are not necessarily attorneys though those will be required. The game of citizens demanding accountability from the government cannot be learned from scratch in time to get a result.
Experience is the only teacher — and time is of the essence. That’s what this resource is about.
Science, Politics, Corporate Interests — and People
The Ohio scenario is not merely about chemicals; it’s about the intersection of science, politics, corporate interests, and human nature. And the situation is always playing out where people, their homes, their families and their livelihoods are under siege. That is not a fair fight: people with little money who are under threat go up against $1000 an hour attorneys and bureaucrats staying in hotels with meal allowances, driving government cars, with nothing to lose.
I am providing this information to help level out the playing field. Please bookmark the web edition of this page, which you can find by clicking the podcast or the headline. I will be updating it and the discussion should be interesting.
This resource is provided by of Chiron Return, the nonprofit investigative team. We are sponsored by your paid subscriptions to this Substack and by direct donations. Every dollar counts. Thank you for your generosity. If you are a philanthropist who wants to support a crucial environmental project that is already getting solid results, please get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you.
There is an Established Game
There exists an established game that takes place between the government and the public. This game as been played at Love Canal, Times Beach, the Five Rivers area, SUNY New Paltz, between vets and the Veterans Administration, and many other places. It’s the same everywhere; I know of no exceptions. Dioxin means deception.
The same playbook shows up over and over again: minimizing the dangers; testing irregularities including “losing” samples or results; testing for the wrong chemicals; propping up shills to say everything is safe; referring to or creating fraudulent studies; creating endless delays; and a few others you will come to recognize.
Then, sadly, in most instances, the public tends to jump on board and accepts reassurance pretend there is not a problem, as most people cannot wrap their minds around the nature of a substance measured in quadrillionths of a gram (femotograms).
While dioxin can be an acute poison, particularly to babies, fetuses, young children and animals, it is rarely so in adults. Rather, it is a hormonal toxin, an at least three-generation multigenerational toxin, and a cancer inducer and cancer promoter. All of these are related. In adults, symptoms of exposure are flu-like or can resemble food poisoning; and they can include rashes our skin outbreaks called chloracne.
I can be reached via the comments below, by email at email@example.com, and by phone at (845) 481-5616. That’s not a cell, so please don’t text.
This is a documentary about Times Beach, Missouri, a town which was used as a dioxin dump for many years. The town was eventually decommissioned, torn down, and its waste burned. It was turned into a park. It’s an excellent account of events; I learned many things I didn’t know. However, the health consequences are somewhat understated, especially those associated with hormone effects.
A Few Essential Dioxin Resources
This page includes an introduction by me, but is notable for two articles by science historian Peter Montague on the nature of the dioxin problem. He goes through several of the early incidents where the existence and toxicity of dioxin were established, and describes the scientific and political landscape in a few words. I have made some corrections to this article, including to the train makeup and whether the EPA was informed of the derailment immediately — it was.
Tough she never planned to be, Carol is the leading historian and document collector on dioxin and all related issues. She knows the history inside and out from memory. This interview was conducted in mid-February 2023 for the Feb. 17 Planet Waves FM.
A master assessment of the dioxin problem by Carol van Strum and Paul E. Merrell, written for Greenpeace in 1987. This hand-typed vintage report is a central document that describes sources, health effects and the regulatory game associated with TCDD.
In my newest program, I offer a from the ground upward history of the issue, including two interviews with historian, author and document collector Carol van Strum. I read from a document called the Kemner brief. Other important documents are in the notes for this program.
In this extended interview, Carol tells about how her home and surrounding forest in Oregon were sprayed with Agent Orange in the 1970s, and how this spurred her into a lifetime of action. For an excellent biography of Carol van Strum, see this article.
Peter wrote about a document called the Sanjour Memo, which revealed that Monsanto had conducted and published multiple studies that manipulated the data to make dioxin seem safe.
One of the great investigative reports ever, Vicky Monks dismantles the New York Times’ fraudulent coverage of dioxin’s toxicity in this 1993 article originally published in American Journalism Review. I am working on a newer, cleaner presentation. This one is hosted on my Dioxin Dorms website.
This is a Monsanto document from June 12, 1956 that establishes the existence of dioxin and where it will be created. It relates to a March 8, 1949 explosion in Nitro, West Virginia, and a November 17, 1953 explosion at a BASF (formerly I. G. Farben) plant in Germany. This is a very upsetting document. The incidents were used to create fraudulent studies “proving” that dioxin does not cause cancer. This is better to print and read with a highlighter or pencil in your hand.
Peter tells the story of how be unraveled the most unnerving scientific scandal of the 20th century, involving the laboratories that decide that chemicals are safe. Peter is the guy in the top photo at the right.
Dioxins are trace contaminants created as part of the manufacturing process of any product that involves chlorine, from plastics to paper and many others. Other chemicals are dioxin-like compounds because of the similarity of the molecules. Historically, these include a diversity of insecticides (DDT, Dursban and many others), “disinfectants,” chlorinated benzene, Teflon (a/k/a C8), PCBs and many others. This will give you some background on how dioxins come to be. Related: tribute to Dr. Ward Stone, the former New York State wildlife pathologist.
This takes the history of PCBs back to the beginning, and covers the dioxin angle, the fraudulent testing angle, and published in Sierra, summer 1994. The companion to this article is above, How We Got Here, by Peter Montague.
This is a document collection including my own files, those of Carol van Strum and Peter von Stackelberg. This is also at ToxicDocs.org, hosed by Columbia University. Chiron Return was a major contributor of documents and other resources to the project.
My first investigative feature, written and published in 1983, this article covers the dioxin problem at the Love Canal in Niagara Falls, New York.
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