by Alexander GRECHКО, Dr. Sc. (Tech.), leading researcher, GINTsVETMET Institute
Humankind has scored staggering achievements in unlocking the mysteries of the world we live in. It has solved the riddles of the atom, it has built space stations, it has designed artificial intelligence...
But there is also the reverse side of the coin.
That is mountains of waste, the waste products.
Some are known well enough, and we know how to get rid of them - e.g. through prevention, utilization or annihilation. However, many toxic substances are still an enigma-say, compounds of the dioxin or furan type. Pretty dangerous compounds!
Small wonder they have been dubbed "chemical AIDS", "degradation hormones" and "the arch enemy of ecology".
The first publications on dioxins (C 4 H 4 O 2 ) appeared way back in 1956-1957. These highly toxic compounds were found to be responsible for the occupational disease among chemical industry workers caused by an excess of chlorine and its compounds in the organism. But then this problem was "shelved" and forgotten up until 1968 when dioxins were detected in solid household wastes.
Dioxins, furans and other substances belong to a large group of high-toxicity compounds known as xenobiotics, i.e. substances alien to living organisms and contained in various industrial wastes and even products. From the chemical standpoint, dioxins are a family of homologues* and isomers** of tri- and bicyclic halogenorganic compounds. Their number depends on the level of saturation with chlorine and bromine atoms, and it may come into thousands. That is to say, dioxins exhibit a great structural complexity and variety.
Dioxins are similar to radiation in that they can accumulate in the human organism and cause genetic mutations in the progeny. The medics say there are no safe dioxin doses - even at low concentrations dioxins are harmful to all forms of living matter. Just one dioxin molecule can interfere with the normal cell activity and trigger reactions ... Читать далее