National Dioxins Program

The Australian Government announced the four year National Dioxins Program in 2001 to reduce dioxins and dioxin-like substances in the environment. A priority for the program was to improve our knowledge about dioxin levels in Australia.

National Action Plan for addressing dioxins in Australia

Measures to ensure that levels remain low, and where feasible are eliminated, are outlined in the National Action Plan for Addressing Dioxins in Australia. At its 12th meeting on 29 October 2005, this plan was endorsed by the then Environment Protection and Heritage Council as the guiding document for addressing dioxins in Australia as required under Article 5 of the Stockholm Convention.

Australian studies

The Australian Government undertook a range of studies from 2001 to 2004, to measure emissions from sources such as bushfires, and dioxin levels in the environment, food and population. The findings of these studies were used to determine the risk dioxins pose to our health and the environment. Because of a range of actions taken by governments and industry over the past decade or so, Australia's dioxin levels are generally low, as are the risks to human health and the environment.

Technical reports

The findings of the information studies and the dioxins risk assessments are presented in the following twelve technical reports.

  1. Dioxins emissions from Bushfires in Australia
  2. Dioxins emissions from Motor Vehicles in Australia
  3. Inventory of Dioxin emissions in Australia, 2004
  4. Dioxins in Ambient Air in Australia
  5. Dioxins in Soils in Australia
  6. Dioxins in Aquatic Environments in Australia
  7. Dioxins in Fauna in Australia
  8. Dioxins in Agricultural Commodities in Australia
    Addendum to Technical Report No. 8 - Dioxins in Agricultural Commodities in Australia - Summary of tuna dioxin and dioxin-like PCB testing.
  9. Dioxins in the Australian Population: Levels in Blood
  10. Dioxins in the Australian Population: Levels in Human Milk
  11. Ecological Risk Assessment of Dioxins in Australia
  12. Human Health Risk Assessment of Dioxins in Australia

The report Dioxins In Food Dietary Exposure Assessment and Risk Characterisation, Technical Report Series No. 27 is available on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website at: www.foodstandards.gov.au/_srcfiles/FINAL%20DEA-RC%20Report%20Dioxin%2024May04final.pdf.

Community summary

The key findings of the technical reports are summarised in the publication Dioxins in Australia: A summary of the findings of studies conducted from 2001 to 2004.

Development of the Program

In 1990s, countries began working on the development of the Stockholm Convention to reduce Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), including dioxins. In light of this, in 1999 and 2000, the Australian, State and Territory Environment Ministers agreed to adopt the following approach to the development of a national approach for dealing with dioxins:

  • Develop a comprehensive emission inventory for the major sources of dioxins based upon Australian test data.
  • Agree to benchmark levels for dioxins emissions.
  • Prioritise the sources of dioxins emission for action.
  • State/Territories to introduce progressive pollution reduction programs on each of the priority sources.

A paper outlining options for a national dioxins program was considered at public workshops held in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Brisbane in March and April 2001. Almost 200 people attended these workshops including individuals and representatives of environment groups, industry and Australian, State and Territory government agencies. The recommendations from these workshops were considered in the development of the National Dioxins Program as outlined in the Program Design document.

Publications

Books and reports