Class: Dioxins

Chemical Name: Molecular Makeup:

Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins (CDD)



Sources: Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-dioxins (CDDs) are a type of chlorinated hydrocarbon centered around C4H4O2 with 75 cogeners. They are often referred to as “dioxins” along with chlorinated dibenzofurans. They have gone out of production in the US and are currently generally produced incidentally as a result of combustion (municipal and industrial waste incinerators, internal combustion engines, power plants, cigarette smoke, etc.) or millwork due to paper bleaching. Levels persist in the environment from past pesticide use.
Transport Vectors: CDDs are omnipresent, do not dissolve easily in water, and as a result, easily biomagnify in marine life up the food chain by attaching to sediments and microscopic organisms and being consumed by progressively larger organisms. Dairy and fish consumption accounts for the majority of human exposure.

Sample Concentration Levels

Abiotic Media:

Water Soil Air Sediment

Ontario, CA Drinking Water, raw: 9 – 175 ppq (33 tainted samples)
Drinking water, treated:
19 – 46 ppq (4 tainted samples) [6]
Farm ditchwater: 2.22 ug/L
Railway ditchwater (no ties): 45 ug/L
Railway ditchwater (ties): 9,627 ug/L[7]

2,3,7,8-TCDD, Midland, MI: .6-450 ppt
Midland, MI Dow Chemical Plant Vicinity: 22-450 ppt[9]
MO Trailer Park Min: 39 ppb
Max: 2,200 ppb [8]

US Urban Average: 2.3 pg/m3 [3]
Indoor German Kindergarten: 1.46 – 4.27 pg/m3
Outdoor German Kindergarten:
0.61 – 78.97 pg/m3 [4]
Downwind of Detroit Waste Incinerator:
2.12 pg/m3
Nearby rural: 0.51 mg/m3 [5]

BC Ditch Sediment
Utility Pole Adjacen
t: 2,576 ppt
4 Meters Down: 14 ppt
4 Meters Upstream: None [7]
Green Lake Core Sample 1860-1930: < 10 pg/g
1960s: 1,300 pg/g
1986-1990: 750 pg/g (total CDD/CDF)[10]

Due to the tendency of CDDs to attach to small sediments in water, their deposition in core samples is highly stratified, indicating times when pollution spiked due to industrial activity.=

Biotic Media:

Fish/Sea Life (sum of 15 cogeners. Lipid wt.)
Consumer Products Mussels & Crustacean Life
Food (sum of 15 cogeners, ppt)

Herring: 163.1 ppt
Cod: 328.81 ppt
Redfish: 186 ppt[11]
8 cogeners in lake trout, wet wt.
Lake Superior:
7.2 ng/g
Lake Michigan: 64.5 ng/g [13]

Cigarette Smoke: 5.0 ug/m3 [15]

NJ Crab pancreas:
3,700 – 6,200
NJ Crab meat:

100 – 120
NJ Lobster pancreas:
250 – 610
NJ Lobster meat:
5 – 6 [14]

Lipid weights
Cow Milk: 20.9
Chicken: 69.21 [11]
Wet Weights
Pork Chop: 59.3
Lamb Sirloin: 8.95 [12]


Blood Serum (US), pg TEQ/g High risk groups, 2,3,7,8-TCDD, ppt Adipose Tissue, pg/g Breastmilk, TEQ ppt

Non-fish eaters: 17.5
Moderate fish eaters: 25.8
Heavy fish eaters: 63.5 [17]

Arctic Quebec Inuit High: 36.0  Low: 2.5
Mean: 8.4
Control population High:
< 2 ppt [18]

General US Population Low: 178.614
High: 2213.21
Median: 997.444[16]

Inuit Women: 39.6
Southern Quebec Women:
14.6 [18]

Health effects:


  1. Environmental Protection Agency. 1999. Fact sheet on polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and related compounds update: Impact on fish advisories. Washington, DC: Office of Water.
  2. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 1998. Toxicological profile for chlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins. Atlanta: US Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. Smith RM, O'Keefe P, Aldous K, et al. 1992. Measurement of PCDFs and PCDDs in air samples and lake sediments at several locations in upstate New York. Chemosphere 25(1-2):95-8.
  4. Päpke O, Ball M, Lis ZA, et al. 1989a. PCDD and PCDF in indoor air of kindergartens in northern W. Germany. Chemosphere 18:617-626.
  5. Bobet E, Berard MF, Dann T. 1990. The measurement of PCDD and PCDF in ambient air in southwestern Ontario. Chemosphere 20(10-12):1439-1445.
  6. Jobb B, Uza M, Hunsinger R, et al. 1990. A survey of drinking water supplies in the Province of Ontario for dioxins and furans. Chemosphere 20(10-12):1553-1558.
  7. Wan MT, Van Oostdam J. 1995. Utility and railroad rights-of-way contaminants: Dioxins and furans. Journal of Environmental Quality 24(2):61-69.
  8. Hoffman R, Stehr-Green PA, Webb KB, et al. 1986. Health effects of long-term exposure to 2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin. JAMA 255 (15):2031-2038.
  9. Nestrick TJ, Lamparski LL, Frawley NN, et al. 1986. Perspectives of a large scale environmental survey for chlorinated dioxins: Overview and soil data. Chemosphere 15:1453-1460.
  10. Smith, R.M.; O’Keefe, PW.; Hilker, D.R.; Bush, B.; Connor, S.; Donnelly, R.; Storm, R.; Liddle, M. (1993) The historical record of PCDDs, PCDFs, PAHs, PCBs, and lead in Green Lake, New York – 1860 to 1990. Orgtanohalogen Compounds. 24: 141-145.
  11. Beck H, Eckart K, Mathar W, et al. 1989a. PCDD and PCDF body burden from food intake in the Federal Republic of Germany. Chemosphere 18:417-424.
  12. Schecter A, Startin J, Wright C, et al. 1994d. Congener-specific levels of dioxins and dibenzofurans in U.S. food and estimated daily dioxin toxic equivalent intake. Environ Health Perspectives 102(11):962-966.
  13. De Vault D, Dunn W, Bergqvist P, et al. 1989. Polychlorinated dibenzofurans and polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins in Great Lakes fish: A baseline and interlake comparison. Environmental Toxicological Chemistry. 8:1013-1022.
  14. Bopp RF, Gross ML, Tong H, et al. 1991. A major incident of dioxin contamination: Sediments of New Jersey Estuaries. Environ Sci Technol 25:951-956.
  15. Muto H, Takizawa Y. 1989. Dioxins in cigarette smoke. Arch Environ Health 44:171-174.
  16. Orban JE, Stanley JS, Schwemberger JG, et al. 1994. Dioxins and dibenzofurans in adipose tissue of the general U.S. population and selected subpopulations. Am J Public Health 84:439-445.
  17. Svensson B-G, Nilsson A, Hansson M, et al. 1991. Exposure to dioxins and dibenzofurans through the consumption of fish. N Engl J Med 324(1):8-12.
  18. Ayotte P, Dewailly E, Ryan JJ, et al. 1997. PCBs and dioxin-like compounds in plasma of adult inuit living in Nunavik (Arctic Quebec). Chemosphere 34(5-7):1459-1468.