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Irish Examiner - 24/10/05
People aren’t cows, so the milk dioxin test fails to impress residents

THE recent report by the EPA which showed a doubling of dioxin levels in the Ringaskiddy samples is hardly good news.

But more disturbing is the attempt by the EPA and other parties to downplay its significance because levels in other areas of Cork harbour have fallen, and because it isn’t as high as Europe allows it to be.

The EPA report said the sample was taken from a tanker, and that cows were used because they “tend to graze over relatively large areas,” so it wasn’t as if it was taken from a single cow grazing on 10 square feet of grass. It was a valid representation of the area it was taken in. People in and near Ringaskiddy aren’t one bit impressed, and these people aren’t quite as lucky as cows.

Cows’ milk is ideal for assessing dioxin and dioxin-like pollutant levels because these compounds adhere to fat and, in the case of cows, are transferred to and eliminated in the milk of the lactating animal.

A bit like women really, except that women only eliminate their milk when they are breastfeeding, and then the newborn baby gets the build-up of dioxin since milk was last eliminated.

Men don’t get to eliminate milk at all, and neither do children, so dioxin and dioxin-like pollutants just accumulate in their bodies. It’s just laughable that the EPA can’t figure out why Ringaskiddy stands out as the only region showing a significant increase. It wouldn’t be anything to do with the fact that Ringaskiddy is home to Ireland’s largest industrial estate, with its own bevy of incinerators already. I hope they can figure out that building Indaver’s incinerator will add to current dioxin levels. And I hope they can figure out why people like me know they aren’t protecting our health.

Linda Fitzpatrick
‘Rest Havens’
Co Cork


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