Volume 6, Issue 7 (July 2009)
Dioxin Assessment in a River Flood Plain: Soil and Sediment Contamination
Dioxins are a group of 210 chemicals with similar properties and structures that are usually found as a “mixture” in the environment. Dioxins are found at low levels in air, soil, water, and sediment as well in foods such meat, dairy, fish, and shellfish. The highest levels are usually found in sediments soil and animal fats. The most toxic chemical in the group is 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-para-dioxin, which is the “standard” to which other dioxins are compared. This paper examines the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) assessment and remediation efforts in the Tittabawassee River (Michigan, USA) flood plain. Soil and sediment samples indicate higher than “normal” (background) levels of dioxins for soil and sediment, which exceed the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry (ATSDR) action level of 1000 parts per trillion. Data presented indicates the difficulties associated with assessing historical dioxin levels in environments such as soil and sediments. Activities associated with these efforts such as dioxin and furan exposure studies, animal toxicology assessments, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforcement, MDEQ efforts to expedite remediation, as well as future directions for this on-going project are discussed.