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Irish Examiner - 04/02/06
Dioxin rules to affect incinerators
By Ann Cahill, Europe Correspondent

NEW maximum levels for dioxins and PCBs in food will increase the pressure on Ireland's new incineration plants, according to the EU.

Dioxins in particular are a by-product from incinerating waste and they get into the food chain through dairy products and meat.

The new limits will come into force on November 1 throughout the EU and any food or animal feed exceeding them will be banned from sale.

The new limits were welcomed by the Green Party yesterday and it warned they make incineration an even less attractive option for disposing of waste.

"Incineration threatens Ireland's clean and green image in tourism and food production. This lowering of dioxin levels is further proof that incineration is not the answer," said Green Party environment spokesman Ciaran Cuff.

A recent baseline study showed the amount of dioxins in Ireland is still well below that of other EU countries.

Commission spokesman Philip Todd said: "There is an increased risk of contamination with incineration so the authorities may want to have increased controls to ensure food produced near incinerators does not breach the new limits."

PCBs and dioxins accumulate in the environment and the human body. They are known to cause cancer and are hormone disrupters that can damage the foetus and the immune system.

An alert system is to be established to give advance warning of dangerously high dioxin levels in food.

The most recent case of dioxin contamination was of chickens in Belgium which resulted in the closure of 423 farms in Belgium and 37 in Germany. The contamination had come from feed.

There have been limits on dioxins for some time but up to now the EU had not imposed limits on dioxin-like PCBs, which are entirely manmade chemicals.

This is the first time there will be a limit on both forms of dioxins and the European Commission proposes tightening them even further in 2008.


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