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monona on dioxin (fwd)

updated fri 20 oct 00


Elke Blodgett on thu 19 oct 00

forwarded on behalf of Monona

Date: Thu, 19 Oct 2000 14:50:17 EDT
Subject: Re: dioxin (fwd)

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Wed, 18 Oct 2000 14:23:44 -0400
> From: Nancy Galland
> Reply-To: Ceramic Arts Discussion List
> Subject: dioxin
> Thanks Monona for your input. I have not yet received the articles you said
> you have written on the subject, so I look forward to that.
> I also emailed the FDA contact you suggested for a list of dioxin free
> It was news to me that "Ball" clay is a method of mining and not a specific
> type of clay! I was always under the impression it was used because of its
> versatile expansion qualities. Could anyone please clarify this? SNIP<

According to the Potter's Dictionary (Hamer) the name came from the practice
of digging the clay out of the open pits in convenient blocks of about 25
pounds, called balls.

Whatever. The ball clays are any of mother nature's clays that are highly
plastic, slippery, and in which many of the particle are of colloidal size.
Usually you have to add grog or something courser to the stuff to make it

The potters Dictionary talks about a lot of different types and different
geological origins for various ball clays. This makes me think some will be
contaminated with dioxin and some wont. It is the Kentucky Ball that was the
original problem. It would really be helpful if there were data on all the
products we use, but I don't think we are going to get this information
anytime soon for three reasons:

First: Only a few things have been tested and testing is going to take
longer since EPA thinks now the samples should be testing for all the dioxin
congeners. This is time-consuming and expensive. But EPA has a good reason,
which is that the classic 2,3,7,8-TCDD is not the dominant dioxin in some of
the samples they tested. In the new set of samples, 1,2,3,7,8-PeCDD
(pentachlorodibenzodioxin) was the primary dioxin congener. And there some
other odd ones up high on the list, too. That's just amazing to me.

Second: The companies and mines that sell the stuff will fight like hell to
keep the data out of your hands. They will be forcing FDA and EPA to check,
double check, and triple check their data--all the while threatening them
with lawsuits if they are even a tiny bit off in their analyses and, as a
result, their business declines. The individual scientists in the agencies
will be worried about keeping their jobs.

Third: Both the government agencies and the manufacturers are well aware
that individuals can't prove the dioxins in their bodies came from clay. Or
that their diseases in later life are related to them. John Q. Potter has no
leverage in this situation.

Monona Rossol
181 Thompson St., # 23
NYC NY 10012-2586 212/777-0062