​This factsheet provides information on the Rhodes Serum Dioxin Study.

Last updated: 05 October 2017
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Monitoring the dioxin level of the community around Rhodes Peninsula

NSW Health is conducting a study to monitor residents' potential exposure to dioxin as a result of the remediation planned for Rhodes Peninsula.
 

Why are we studying dioxin levels?

Dioxin is formed as a by-product of pesticide manufacture. In the past, dioxin-contaminated waste was used in land reclamation on the site adjacent to Homebush Bay.
 
Exposure is chiefly through eating contaminated meat and dairy produce. Dioxin at very high levels is associated with a number of adverse health effects. However, no health effects have been demonstrated at the levels found in the average Australian population.
 
We are working to ensure that the remediation process will be carried out to the most stringent standards available. However, we understand that there is community concern regarding potential exposure to dioxin.
This study will detect whether the community around Rhodes has had increased exposure to dioxin associated with the remediation.
 
Blood samples will be taken in October 2004, when remediation is underway ( in mid 2007) and when remediation is complete (probably in late 2009).
 
Comparative samples will also be taken from people living outside this immediate area during the same time period to see if there is any change relative to the Rhodes community.
  

Who is in the study?

Participation in this study is purely voluntary. People eligible for sampling in the community group are:
 
  • permanent residents of Rhodes
  • men aged 30 years and over
  • women aged 45 years and over
  • and all of whom intend living on the peninsula for the duration of the clean up.
 
People eligible to take part in the study live in the streets inside the red line in the following map.
 
Rhodes str​eet map
Rhodes str​eet map 
 
People formerly employed at the Union Carbide plant or currently employed on the sites being remediated, or who worked with pesticides in the past, are not eligible for this study.
 

What do participants need to do?

If you decide to participate in the study and are eligible, we will request your consent and ask you to complete a short questionnaire asking you your age, gender, address, period of residence, occupation and dietary history.
 
We will then ask you to attend a clinic at a local pathology laboratory in Rhodes (or make alternative arrangements if this is difficult for you) to donate a 50ml blood sample. A 50ml blood sample is approximately one eighth of the amount that is collected during blood donation. We will also ask for contact details so that we can contact you again for retesting.
 
Your blood sample will then be de-identified and stored in a secure freezer solely for the purposes of the study. When the samples are analysed, your blood sample will be combined with other participants of the same age and sex and the dioxin level of the pooled sample will be tested.
 
Participation in this study is entirely voluntary. You are in no way obliged to participate. If you do participate, you can withdraw at any time. Whatever your decision, please be assured that it will not affect your relationship with NSW Health or its staff.
 
The Ethics Review Committee (RPAH Zone) of the Central Sydney Area Health Service has approved this study.
 
Please note that providing a blood sample can lead to minor side effects such as bruising, stinging, dizziness and fainting. Qualified blood test technicians will take the blood samples and provide advice on minimising possible side effects.
 

What if participants move away from the area?

We are interested in seeing the effect that the remediation work has on residents of the area.
 
If you move away from the area during the study period, we will no longer require your participation. We have deliberately requested the participation of a large number of people to make up for normal movement of residents in and out of the area.
 

Confidentiality

You can be assured that no details identifying you or your blood result will be released as a result of participating in this study.
 
The results of the study will be presented in community meetings when they are finalised.
 
We are happy to provide you with a copy of the written report of the whole study, but individual blood results will not be available as the blood samples are combined before they are sent for analysis.
 

For more information

If you have any questions regarding this study, please call the Environmental Health Branch on (02) 9816 0234.
 
If you have any concerns regarding the ethical conduct of this investigation, you may contact the Secretary of the Central Sydney Area Health Service Ethics Committee on (02) 9515 6766.
Contact page owner: Environmental Health