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Reflecting growing public concerns over possible environmental contamination from dioxin — believed to cause cancer — the Environment Agency will make fiscal 1999 budget requests worth about eight times initial fiscal 1998 outlays to tackle the problem, agency officials said Wednesday.

According to request outlines, the agency will demand 2.38 billion yen for dioxin-related expenditures. Altogether, the agency will request a total of 94 billion yen — an increase of about 18 percent from the previous year — for the fiscal 1999 budget in its package to be submitted to the Finance Ministry by the end of the month.

Of the total, it plans to use about 7.3 billion yen for solving problems of environmental contamination through chemical substances, including dioxin and suspected endocrine disrupters. The amount is about three times the amount set aside for similar purposes in the initial fiscal 1998 state budget.

The agency plans to conduct further studies on the effects of dioxin on human health in fiscal 1999 following new guidelines set in May by the World Health Organization.

The new WHO guidelines says the maximum daily intake of dioxin per person should remain between 1 and 4 picograms per 1 kg of body weight. One picogram is one-trillionth of a gram.

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