New health service for dioxin victims launched

16/04/2008

People exposed to dioxin will soon be able to get help from a specialist health support service.

Following an independent report the Government has instructed the Health Ministry to work with District Health Boards (DHBs) to create the service, which is to be implemented by July 1.

Ivon Watkins-Dow chemical plant, now called Dow Agrosciences, made the herbicide 245-T from 1962 to 1987 and the impact of the chemical on workers and the residents of Paritutu has been much studied and disputed.

The full independent report will be released by Allen and Clarke Policy and Regulatory Specialists Ltd at a public meeting to be held in Taranaki on April 29.

Ministry and Taranaki District Health Board officials will attend the meeting and describe the implementation of the health service and the eligibility assessment process.

The Dow company funded an Otago University study into the effects on employees at the plant.

It shows that among the workers involved in the study, death from all causes and all cancers was within the normal range expected in New Zealand.

There was no evidence of increased cancer or disease related to dioxin exposure.

Results released in December showed life expectancy from those who worked at the plant between 1962 and 1987 had the same life expectancy as the rest of New Zealand.

In 1997, an update from a global study by the International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC) said exposure to dioxin may be associated with a small increase in overall cancer risk and in the risk of soft tissue sarcomas and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

In 2005, an IARC study of just New Zealand workers found no increase in these two cancers, but suggested a small increase in another condition, multiple myeloma.

A total of 1754 employees were followed in the study period and 247 died during the period.

The study observed more than expected deaths among short-term workers, but concluded the increase was not to be related to exposures at the site.

The study used blood analysis to determine whether workers had blood dioxin levels above most New Zealanders.

Of the 1599 people who worked at the site in the relevant period, 508 still live in Taranaki, 346 volunteered to have their blood taken and completed a questionnaire.

Many of those most directly involved in handling products containing dioxin had dioxin blood levels greater than normal.

Most workers with unexposed jobs had normal levels.

The Otago study took the data from the New Plymouth volunteers and used it to estimate the dioxin exposure of the entire worker group of 1599.

The estimated dioxin levels of the New Plymouth workers were relatively low compared to estimates for other workers as reported in overseas studies.

The study then analysed all the data to determine whether there was a relationship between level of dioxin exposure and an increased risk of cancer or other diseases and found that among potentially exposed workers total deaths were at expected levels.

There were non-statistically significant increases in all cancers combined, non-Hodgkins lymphoma, soft tissue sarcoma, multiple myeloma, and ischemic heart disease, while lung cancer, prostate cancer, and diabetes were less than expected.

16/04/2008 | stuff.co.nz  | NEWS-2008-M04-16-002 | NZPA

DELAY-DENY-DIE-002Editor Remarks 17 Oct 2014

Translation required: See The Ministry of Health is offering a major health support programme to Taranaki residents who have an increased risk of cancer after exposure to high dioxin levels from a herbicide plant.

Translation:

One Free GP visit and then you are slotted into the Public Health System Just Like all NZ Citizens and join the LONG C

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