Chapter 12: Dioxins and Other Carcinogens
Published:16 Oct 2015
D. A. Purser, in Toxicology, Survival and Health Hazards of Combustion Products, ed. D. A. Purser, R. L. Maynard, and J. C. Wakefield, The Royal Society of Chemistry, 2015, ch. 12, pp. 382-410.
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The occurrence of a range of carcinogens, including halogenated dioxins, furans and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), is a particular area of concern with respect to potential carcinogenicity and other health effects following direct inhalation exposure, dermal exposure to soot, or secondary exposure through oral intake in food as a result of environmental contamination by the products of combustion. This chapter reviews the main carcinogenic substances known to occur in combustion products from different sources and the potential hazards associated with them, with particular reference to dioxins and related compounds. Dioxins and related compounds are discussed with respect to historical and recent data on human intake from different sources. These are compared with toxicity and exposure guidelines. The contribution of different industrial processes and fuels to levels of environmental contamination and the potential acute and long-term exposure hazards are then described. It is concluded that the reduction of hazards from dioxin intake since the 1980s has been quite a success story, and exposure to all carcinogenic smoke toxins from tobacco smoke (both direct and environmental) has also decreased significantly in Western countries, although still responsible for 28% of all cancer deaths. Exposure to smoke carcinogens other than dioxins due to air pollution from industrial and vehicle emissions, especially diesel smoke particulates, remains a serious and possibly increasing societal health risk.