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monona re: dioxin (fwd)

updated thu 26 oct 00


Elke Blodgett on sun 22 oct 00

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2000 20:35:52 EDT
Subject: Re: dioxin (fwd)

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Sun, 22 Oct 2000 11:59:17 -0400
> From: Nancy Galland
> Reply-To: Ceramic Arts Discussion List
> Subject: Re: dioxin
> I don't know how much reading on this subject you have done, but it has
> been well documented that dioxins are produced by certain industrial
> processes for a long time now. And the news that dioxins are dangerous to
> our health has been around since 1977. Pick up a copy of "Dying from
> Dioxin" by Lois Gibbs.
> What you are not realizing is that it is small amounts of dioxin that are
> dangerous, and that has been scientifically proven since 1985. If you read
> my original post, all the figures are there. If you like, I'll re-post it
> to you. In fact, there is no safe level of dioxin, not even the
> "non-detect" level that papermills talk about are safe, because it
> bio-accumulates in the food chain.
> And as the top animal in the food chain, we already have more than the "
> safe" levels in our tissues.
> One could say that it is NOT KNOWN how much if any dioxin from the clay is
> absorbed through the skin. One could also say that even though we have no
> measurement of this particular possibility, it is still a possibility. "Not
> known" is not the same as "proven safe".
> One could say that maybe the clay attracts dioxin to the extent that it is
> not released into the skin. One could also say this is not known, this is
> just as much conjecture as the other hypothesis that it does release dioxin
> to the skin. Dioxin is water soluble. Skin absorbs water. Is it rocket
> science to imagine that potters using wet Clay that is contaminated with
> dioxins will absorb it through their skin? If dioxin can migrate out of
> milk cartons into the milk, through coffee filters into coffee, and it can
> be absorbed through the skin, should we not assume the likelihood of it
> being tranferred through water in the clay to water on the hands and
> through the skin into the bloodstream? <

You probably are right---and then again...... We really don't know. And
once in a while life provides some nice surprises. The best one I got this
year is the research that showed that running your hot tap water through the
grounds in the coffee maker eliminates about 80-90% of the lead! The news
gladdened the heart of this caffeine addict.

To be serious, I think the dioxins in clay--and in the other minerals in
which they were found--probably is bad news all around. But as much as I
would like to say something definitive, I can only say we don't know.

And I agree that it is not acceptable to wait until things are proven
hazardous. So we can assume this is bad news, but what to do about it short
of quitting pottery, I'm not sure. Of course following the best general
precautions and reducing the use of ball clay should be helpful.

But we need to find out which minerals are contaminated and use the
dioxin-free materials. And this will have to wait on the FDA or EPA's
testing. Or we could put pressure on ceramic suppliers to test. But we need
to KNOW which minerals are contaminated and to what extent.

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

Elke Blodgett on wed 25 oct 00

response from Monona:
> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> Date: Mon, 23 Oct 2000 09:48:42 -0400
> From: Nancy Galland
> Reply-To: Ceramic Arts Discussion List
> Subject: Re: dioxin
> Dr. Wm. Kaukler wrote:(exerpted)
> "My life has been bombarded by the chemical
> dangers in our environment and I seek them out and mentally file them to
> realistically evaluate the dangers. The clay-dioxin connection is new to
> and I am collecting information as I bring together my own observations and
> resources. The issue is not cut and dry to me by any means.
> I have yet to hear that the origin of the dioxin is not natural. If it is
> natural, then the danger has been present since year one (of man on
earth). <

Like many hazards in year one, they were buried deep in the earth. We didn't
have lead poisoning, silicosis, and many other occupational/environmental
illnesses until we started digging up stuff and snorting it.

> Dangerous pots have been made for thousands of years.
> As far as the argument about which direction the dioxins will migrate, that
> is the kind of question I prefer to address because it one that science can
> answer. Without being a chemist in this field, I still can develop a
> scientific assessment of how things may evolve. I also sense that you also
> realize that chemical affinities between skin and clay are at the center of
> such a scenario. Without actually performing the experiment, we have only
> theory. However, the selective adsorption of dioxin and similar compounds
> by clay suggest the precedent that the dioxins and like compounds are
> to the wet clay. <

Although I suggested this as a possibility, it is more likely that the
dioxins will significantly skin-absorb. They sure do when put directly on
the skin.

And skin absorbing chemicals even in low concentrations seem to selectively
absorb. This certainly is true in mixtures of solvents. Studies of cleaning
chemicals containing a few percent of glycol ethers have been studied and the
glycol ethers will selectively abosrb in significant amounts.

> There may be a saturation concentration where this may no
> longer apply. I suggest instead that clay would serve as a good material
> to remove the dioxins from an environment (ground water for example) and
> prevent contact with humans unless released by heat or other chemical
> reaction. Indeed, clay has been employed for such cleaning up operations
> centuries. <

Clays, activated charcoal and many things will do this. However, once
contaminated, they cease working.

> The apparent affinity for dioxins lessens my concern with clay
> use as pottery but heightens it for some other uses like chicken feed or
> applications where the clay is not adequately heat processed like paper
> coatings (where the dioxin binding can be compromised by drying and organic
> additives).<

This is why the FDA is disallowing ball clay as an anti-caking agent in
animal feeds. And that is why EPA studied some other minerals mined from the
earth and found dioxins in some of the substitutes as well.

> Each case has its own special considerations.
> Not that it matters here, I am not an expert nor well read on this topic.
> am only somewhat knowledgeable in many connected aspects to this subject :
> my degrees are in materials science and metallurgy, I am a chemistry
> department faculty member, I have had a graduate course on paper
> (decades ago). I am not an advocate of industry, but often find myself on
> the fence where the environmentalists are concerned." <

This is all interesting stuff to speculate about, but the bottom line is we
really don't know. I am trying hard in my posts on clay art not to come down
hard on either side. We really need more data.

Monona Rossol

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