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We will never know exactly what level of dioxins Price’s healthy primitives or other premodern societies were exposed to.However, since natural sources of dioxins like volcanoes and, more significantly, forest fires, are now primary sources of dioxins, and since pre-modern populations would be expected to have additional exposure through the direct inhalation of fumes from the incineration of heating and cooking materials (living, for example, in thatched houses without chimneys, as Price described the primitive Gaelics), as well as the use of incinerated materials as soil fertilizer (such as slash-and-burn techniques or the use of smoke-impregnated thatch as a fertilizer, both described by Dr.Price), it is not unreasonable to conclude that we are now approaching a level of dioxin exposure similar to that of pre-industrial populations.Even by conservative estimates, no one in the US is currently consuming a level of dioxins that would be expected to exert physiological harm.Since the 1970s, after an historical peak in the 1950s and 1960s, sources of dioxins released into the environment have changed, and the levels have dramatically declined, due to government regulations and to the advancement of technology.

A higher amount of TEQs doesn’t necessarily mean that there is a greater absolute quantity of dioxins in the food, since the TEQ gives greater weight to the more potent dioxins.The World Health Organization (WHO) developed what is called a “tolerable daily intake” (TDI) for dioxins based on the intake levels that produce decreased sperm count, immune suppression and genital malformations in the offspring of exposed rats, and neurobehavioral effects and endometriosis in the offspring of exposed monkeys.However, since the WHO’s TDI is supposed to assume the greatest degree of sensitivity, in order to yield the safest and most conservative estimate, the harm done to male rats exposed during gestation is the primary basis for the TDI.The relative toxicity of dioxins is expressed in relation to the toxicity of TCDD, the most potent dioxin.A “toxicity equivalency factor” (TEF) relates the degree of toxicity of a specific PCDD, PCDF or PCB to the toxicity of the prototypical TCDD, and the TEF is then multiplied by the number of molecules of that particular dioxin compound in a food to yield a “toxicity equivalent quantity” (TEQ).

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