Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dioxin Finding Reversed Neighbors of Incinerator Had Higher Blood Levels

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Dioxin Finding Reversed Neighbors of Incinerator Had Higher Blood Levels

Article excerpt

The director of a study of people living around an Arkansas incinerator has changed his conclusion - and now says the dioxin levels in their blood increased slightly, rather than decreased.

Opponents of the Times Beach incinerator project say the reversal points out the uncertainties - and risks - of burning dioxin.

Morris Cranmer, a medical investigator hired by the Arkansas Department of Health, told St. Louis County officials in May that the study took blood from people living around the Vertac incinerator in Jacksonville, Ark., during the three years it was burning dioxin.

Those samples were compared with blood taken from a control group that lived away from the incinerator.

Cranmer said that Jacksonville residents had higher levels of dioxin in their blood before the burn. By the time the burn ended in February, dioxin levels in both groups had dropped, he said.

He attributed the decrease to the overall reduction of dioxin in the environment, and concluded the incinerator project did not halt that reduction.

Cranmer now says he has taken a closer look at his data and determined that one type of dioxin - the one most closely associated with the Vertac site - increased slightly in the blood of both groups during the burn.

The Arkansas Department of Health hired Cranmer to do the study, which has cost nearly $800,000 in federal money.

Cranmer, former director of the National Center for Toxicological Research in Arkansas, was convicted in 1988 of making false statements to two banks where he had borrowed nearly $10 million. The Farmers Home Association paid off $9.5 million after Cranmer defaulted on the loans.

As part of his court-ordered community service, Cranmer worked for the health department for nine months. The department director at the time, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, hired Cranmer for the dioxin study, paying him $75 an hour. …

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