The release of dioxin, a harmful chemical, in the environment causes various
health problems, while various industrial processes produce dioxins in Pakistan but there is no facility to estimate the dioxin levels in the environment, according to experts.
Dioxins are usually released into the environment by the burning of chlorine containing organic material. Dioxin exposure has many health side effects, such as birth defects, cancer and diabetes, said the experts at a “Workshop on Dioxin Detection and Analysis in Environmental Samples”, held at ICCBS, Karachi University (KU), from April 26 to 28.
Among the speakers were Dr Werner Schnabel, an expert from Germany, Prof Dr Arif Kazmi of the International Centre for Chemical and Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Prof Dr Ahsana Dar of ICCBS and Dr Musharraf of ICCBS.
The ICCBS Karachi organised the workshop to create awareness about the toxicity of dioxins and methods for evaluation of concentrations of dioxins in environmental samples.Dr Werner Schnabel, an expert from Germany, had led the workshop, which was attended by researchers and experts from local industries. They said that chloracne is an acne-like skin condition caused by toxic chemicals, including dioxins.
It develops a few months after one’s swallowing, inhaling or touching one of these chemicals. Other skin effects include rashes, discoloration and excessive body hair. Dioxins are now known to be a human carcinogen and are involved in the promotion of soft tissue sarcomas and other cancers, the experts at the event informed the audience.
Dioxins are associated with adverse reproductive and developmental effects, birth defects, immune system abnormalities, endometriosis and heart-related conditions. The combination of heat and chlorine creates dioxin.
Since chlorine is often a part of the Earth’s environment, natural ecological activity such as volcanic activity and forest fires can lead to the formation of the said chemical. Nevertheless, dioxins are mostly created by human activity, they said.