Concern prompts new review of dioxin study

Concerns over errors in a report on dioxin exposure in the New Plymouth suburb of Paritutu will be looked at by an expert reviewing the study, says the Minister of Health.

Concerns were raised over what appeared to be errors in the health tests and results of the Paritutu study at a public meeting in New Plymouth on Thursday. Tests have found people who lived near the Ivon Watkins-Dow factory which made 245-T from 1962 to 1987 had up to seven times more dioxin in their blood than other people.

The final review of the Paritutu dioxin serum study is expected to be released early next month. The review follows criticism of the study by Auckland forensic accountant John Leonard, who appeared in last month's TV3's documentary Let Us Spray.

Mr Leonard believed there were serious errors in the report that skewed the time people were exposed to dioxin and masked the true extent of the problem.

Health Minister Pete Hodgson said yesterday the terms of reference of the review would be amended to ask the reviewer to consider the seriousness of the apparent error and its impact on the original study.

Three weeks ago, the Ombudsman ordered health officials to release the data behind the disputed tests. Critics said it reinforced claims that mixed up data hides much worse contamination than officials admitted, in Paritutu.

Mr Hodgson said the World Health Organisation recommended reviewer had not completed her report and would be asked to consider the apparent error and any implications it might have.

- NZPA

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