Google Translate


A Toxics-Free Future


No time to waste on dioxins

The European Council is ignoring the planetary limits for dioxins during the French Presidency

For immediate release:

Prague, Gothenburg In an alarming proposal for strengthening the most toxic chemicals limits in waste, the Council of the European Union under the French presidency is pushing for setting extremely high limits for cancer-causing dioxins allowed in waste, favoring industry over the health and environment costs that would follow this decision.

The position of EU Council comes despite a European Parliament proposal just this month that called for lowering the limit for dioxins in waste to 1 micrograms TEQ/kg, stating that only this level can lead to significant improvement of the situation and protect human health and environment. Instead, the EU member states have now put forward an outrageously high limit value for definition of waste containing dangerous dioxins, proposing a value of 10 micrograms TEQ/kg. The proposed extremely high standard for dioxin in waste would keep business as usual for waste incineration and other industries not only in Europe but also worldwide.

In their justification for the decision, the EU member states argue that more health protective limits would require ash and soot from domestic heating to be considered to be hazardous waste and therefore create a financial burden for municipalities on how to safely dispose such waste. However, their estimation is based on obsolete data from the 1990s (1) which are no longer valid. More recent studies show much lower levels of dioxin in ash and soot, but EU governments did not take this recent data into account.

“The member states are simply wrong about the science and based on their flawed approach they plan to sacrifice our health and the planet and push toxic wastes out of control. Their decision clearly favors the waste incineration industry which aims to freely use toxic fly ash as construction material. It is a shame,” says Jindrich Petrlik, IPEN advisor on dioxin and wastes who is based in the Czech Republic.

“It is sad that this is happening during the French presidency which was promising regarding the following Green Deal commitments, which also include clean recyclingas well as swift restriction of endocrine disrupting chemicals among which the dioxins clearly belong to. Recycling of wastes with dioxins is not clean at all,” says Karolina Brabcova, expert from Arnika – Toxics and Waste Programme. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and plastic pollution are both considered key pollutants which recently led to the scientific conclusion that “novel entities” have transgressed global boundaries (assimilative limits) for pollution (2). Data shows that allowing the proposed amount of dioxins in waste to be left without control would create toxic waste that exceeds the tolerable intake for dioxin for the entire human population of up to 133 planet Earths (3).

The EU member states’ high limit also ignores problems from dioxins in waste that contributes significantly to overall contamination of environment and food. The European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) in 2018 called for lowering the tolerable weekly intake (TWI) for dioxins seven times and highlighted that this intake is considerably exceeded in the EU (4). “It does not make sense to decrease the tolerable dose of dioxins from food while at the same time allowing circulation of high levels of dioxins in wastes,” added Brabcova.

The member states’ proposal comes just ahead of the global meeting of the Stockholm and Basel Conventions, scheduled to begin on6 June in Geneva, where these limits called as Low POPs Content Levels will be discussed and decided. It is expected that the European union will push for its limits being adopted as global one later on at meeting in Geneva. “Therefore we say that EU governments sacrifice whole world and justify its contamination with dioxin as documented by analyses of dioxin levels in food chain at hot spots affected by waste incineration ashes. We also expect that the representatives of the Council will say that they decreased limit values in the interest of environmental and health protection but they rather ignore these interests in their position right now,” concluded Petrlik.


(1) Dumler-Gradl, R., et al. (1995). "Research program on dioxin/furan concentration in chimney soot from house heating systems in the Bavarian area." Organohalogen Comp 24: 115-118.

(2) Persson, L., B. M. Carney Almroth, C. D. Collins, S. Cornell, C. A. de Wit, M. L. Diamond, P. Fantke, M. Hassellov, M. MacLeod, M. W. Ryberg, P. Sogaard Jorgensen, P. Villarrubia-Gomez, Z. Wang and M. Z. Hauschild (2022). "Outside the Safe Operating Space of the Planetary Boundary for Novel Entities." Environ Sci Technol 56(3): 1510-1521.

(3) Petrlik, J., et al. (2021). Global control of dioxin in wastes is inadequate: A waste incineration case study. Dioxin 2021. Xi'an, China.

(4) EFSA CONTAM (2018a). "Risk for animal and human health related to the presence of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in feed and food." EFSA Journal 16(11): 331.

For more information:

Jindrich Petrlik, Program Director of Arnika – Toxics and Waste Programme and IPEN advisor on dioxin and wastes
Phone: +420 603 582 984