A government advisory panel said June 20 that high levels of dioxin, commonly detected close to waste incinerators, should be curbed under a revised administrative ordinance for enforcing the Air Pollution Law.

The level of dioxin in the air over Japan is reportedly about 10 times greater than that over the U.S. and Europe. In Japan, the carcinogen has been detected not only in the air but also in soil near dump sites and even in the food chain.

Consequently, there is now a sense of urgency in the need to assess the effects of dioxin on humans, which include deformities and cancer, and for preventive measures to be taken. The recommendation came in a report by the Central Environment Council’s division on hazardous chemicals in the atmosphere. The report was compiled at the request of the head of the Environment Agency in 1995.

Based on the recommendations in the report, the agency plans to make an administrative ordinance by September to tighten curbs on dioxin. Dioxin is emitted when vinyl chloride is incinerated. The compound is often used in household products and environmental experts have long warned that burning such products without first removing vinyl chloride could have serious consequences.

A report by the council in 1996 designated dioxin as one of 22 chemicals that should be subject to immediate curbs. The panel’s report June 20 calls for an administrative ordinance for enforcing the Air Pollution Law to be revised to designate dioxin a hazardous chemical and that the Environment Agency set a density standard for the chemical in the air.

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