Speaking Point: Intro: You're told to trim the fat from your food...but what about your soap? Conventional brands of soap are made from a base of animal fat (tallow), an inexpensive waste product, and are cheaper than the 'natural' soaps made from pure vegetable oils. By buying the commercial soaps, you may be getting a lot more than what you bargained for.
Speaking Point: 1. Dioxin Contamination: Dioxins refer to a group of toxic chemical compounds that accumulate in animal fat. Once these carcinogenic substances have dissolved in fats, they are extremely stable. Animal fats are used in the production of soap, fatty acids, lubricants, margarine, shortening, and feed.
Speaking Point: 2. Dioxin Accumulation: Dioxins accumulate in the food chain; hence foods highest in the food chain contain the highest concentration of dioxins. According to a major EPA scientific report on dioxins, dioxins are most likely to be found in beef, pork, and poultry. The EPA estimates most dioxin exposure occurs through the diet, with over 90% from the intake of dietary animal fats. Dioxin may also be absorbed through the skin from contact with substances containing dioxin.
Speaking Point: 3. Types of Dioxins: Dioxins are a dangerous group of chemical pollutants and consist of the following dioxin-related compounds:
TCDDs – 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (the most well-studied and one of the most toxic dioxins)PCBs – polychlorinated biphenyls (man-made and no longer produced in the United States)CDDs – chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxinCDFs – chlorinated dibenzofurans
Speaking Point: 4. Dioxin Formation: Dioxins are unwanted chlorine-containing by-products of industrial as well as natural processes. They are released into the air from:
Combustion processes (commercial and municipal waste incineration)Burning fuels (wood, coal, and petroleum)Burning household trashForest fires and volcanic eruptionsChlorine bleaching of pulp and paper (chlorine dioxide)Chemical manufacturing of pesticides and herbicidesCigarette smoke
Speaking Point: 5. From the Air to Where?: When dioxins are released into the air, they may be transported long distances (to most places throughout the world) and settle in the water, soil, sediment, and food sources, especially dairy products, meat, fish, and shellfish. Animals, as well as aquatic organisms, are exposed to dioxins as they are deposited on the plants that they consume which are then stored in the animal fat. Dioxins are extremely persistent compounds and broken down in the environment very slowly. A large part of current exposures in the U.S. are due to man-made dioxins from releases that occurred decades ago.
Speaking Point: 6. Entry into the Body: Dioxins can enter the body in the following ways:
Breathing air or vapors containing trace amounts of dioxins on particlesInadvertent ingestion of soil containing dioxinsAbsorption through the skin contacting air, soil, or water containing minute levels of dioxins
Speaking Point: 7. Health Effects: The most significant health effect from high levels of dioxin is chloracne, a severe skin disease with acne-like lesions that occur mainly on the face and upper body. Short-term exposure may also cause:
Skin rashesskin discolorationExcessive body hairAltered liver functionLong-term exposure may result in several types of cancer. Fetuses and newborns are the most sensitive and vulnerable to the effects of this substance. Prolonged or repeated exposure may cause impairment of the endocrine system and reproductive or developmental effects, such as weakened immune responses and behavior changes in offspring. Dioxin is classified by IARC (International Agency for Research on Cancer) as a “known human carcinogen“.
Speaking Point: 8. Can Dioxins Be Destroyed?: Dioxins cannot be washed off or reduced. Destruction of dioxins requires incineration at high temperatures – over 850° C (1562º F) and over 1000º C (1832° F) for large amounts of contaminated material.
Speaking Point: 9. Reduce Exposure: Controlling exposure to dioxins and other chemicals can be limited by doing the following:
Trimming fat from meat and eating lean meats.Removing the skin from poultry and fish.Consuming non-fat or low-fat dairy products.Reduce the amount of butter and lard used in cooking and food preparation.Varying the diet to avoid excessive dioxin exposure from a single source.Avoiding skin care products manufactured from animal fats (such as soaps, glycerin obtained from discarded animal parts, stearic acid from an animal source, milk baths made with low-fat or whole milk, and lanolin).
For more on this HOT TOPIC, see "Tallow in Your Soap - Is It Fit to be Fat?"