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Irish Examiner - 28/11/05
European Union dioxin limits should not give false comfort

EPA director Larry Stapleton (Irish Examiner letters, November 11) said that in my letter (Irish Examiner, October 31) I ignored the fact that dioxin levels in Ireland were low compared with the EU limit.

This may be true, but it shouldn't give us any false comfort. If Mr Stapleton had attended the oral hearing in Cork he might have learned something new about these EU limits and be less inclined to rely on them.

For example, he would have heard expert medical evidence from Dr Gavin Ten Tusscher, paediatrician, scientist, and a member of the EU technical group on bio-monitoring of children, state that harm was occurring to children even under permitted licence conditions.

This is because the tolerable levels are measured in relation to adults and not children, even though children are more vulnerable and adversely affected by exposure to dioxins. The EPA's apparent refusal to date to consider such evidence is deeply worrying, particularly in the light of the advice given by Dr Ten Tusscher - ie, it would be wise to assess the extent of the harm these pollutants would cause to people's health before deciding to grant a licence.

When Mr Stapleton refers "to putting some facts about the report into some perspective," this again gives very cold comfort when you realise - as I do, having attended the oral hearing - that the Indaver incineration company produced no health impact assessment when making their application.

In addition, Dr Anthony Staines, senior lecturer in epidemiology, Department of Public Health, UCD, and co-author of the Government-funded Health Research Bureau report, told the hearing of the inability of the EPA and the Department of Health to monitor such facilities.

The public at large would have more confidence in government agencies, including the EPA, if they proved themselves more open and willing to take into account all available evidence, and not simply present information to portray themselves in the best possible light.

The public interest would be better served if taxpayers' money was spent on a baseline health study of Cork harbour rather than on PR companies.

Mary Hurley
Gort na Fleur
High Road
Co Cork


Cork Harbour Alliance for a Safe Environment
Bishop's Road, Cobh, Co. Cork
Tel - 021 481 5564      Email -
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