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SAGINAW - When it comes to dioxin contamination, where you live may not matter as much as what you eat.
Midland and Saginaw County residents should be cautious about eating certain fish, meat and animal products from the area where historic releases of dioxin have tainted the soil, said Dr. David Garabrant, leader of a University of Michigan Dioxin Exposure Study. Combustion or other industrial processes create dioxins, some of which have links to cancer in lab animals.
Thursday, U-M released a final update on its six-year study, which tested dioxin levels in soil, household dust and blood samples from residents in the Tittabawassee River floodplain from the Dow Chemical Co. plant in Midland through Midland and Saginaw counties. The study did not test the effects of dioxins on the health of residents.
The study found ingesting meat and products such as eggs and milk from animals raised in dioxin-contaminated areas increases the level of the chemicals in people's blood.
"Food matters," Garabrant said.
Dow gave U-M an unrestricted grant to conduct the study, an aspect that has drawn environmentalists' criticism. The university controlled all aspects of the study, and Dow had no influence on the results, Garabrant said.