Dioxins and Furans Defined

The term "dioxin" is commonly used to refer to a family of chemicals that share chemical structures and characteristics. These compounds include polychlorinated dibenzo dioxins(PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzo furans (PCDFs) which are unwanted by-products of industrial and natural processes, usually involving combustion.

Different dioxin and furan compounds vary greatly in their demonstrated ability to cause adverse health effects in laboratory animals. The most toxic of the chlorinated dioxin and furan molecules in laboratory animals is 2,3,7,8-tetachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD). Even among different species of laboratory animals the sensitivity to TCDD effects varies widely. Humans are less sensitive to dioxin effects than laboratory animals.

For the purposes of this web site, the term "dioxin" includes both dioxins and furans.

POPs/PBTs – Global Efforts

Certain substances, including dioxin, are classified by different regulatory authorities as POPs (persistent organic pollutants) and/or PBTs (substances that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic), which have generated a range of public health and environmental concerns. For additional information, see POPs/PBTs – Global Efforts.