Dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCDD/Fs and PCBs) in food from farms close to foot and mouth disease animal pyres.

Research paper by Martin M Rose, Nigel N Harrison, Andrew A Greaves, Alan A Dowding, Selwyn S Runacres, Martin M Gem, Alwyn A Fernandes, Shaun S White, Martin M Duff, Claire C Costley, Irene I Leon, R Steve RS Petch, Joe J Holland, Alex A Chapman

Indexed on: 31 Mar '05Published on: 31 Mar '05Published in: Journal of environmental monitoring : JEM


To control the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, which occurred in the UK in early 2001, a large number of farm animals were slaughtered. Where it was not possible to render or landfill the carcasses, they were destroyed by burning on open pyres, with wood, coal and other materials. Uncontrolled combustion such as this is known to produce small quantities of dioxins and an investigation was made into whether, as a result of the burning, there was an elevation in the concentrations of these compounds in food produced in the areas close to the pyres. With few exceptions, concentrations of PCDD/Fs and PCBs were within the expected ranges as predicted by reference data. No accumulation over time was evident from a repeat milk sampling exercise. Where elevated concentrations of PCDD/Fs and PCBs were found in chickens and eggs, they were in samples not destined for the food chain. Elevated levels in some samples of milk from Dumfries and Galloway were not found in earlier or later samples and may have been found as a result of a temporary feeding regime. Elevated concentrations in lamb from Carmarthenshire were from very young animals which would not have entered the food chain. There was no evidence of any significant increase in dietary exposure to PCDD/Fs and PCBs as a result of the FMD pyres.