By JOHN FLESHER
Adults living in areas contaminated with dioxin from a Dow Chemical Co. plant in Midland shouldn't worry about exposure to the deadly toxin from soil in their yards or household dust, a scientist said Friday.
University of Michigan researchers released this week a final report on dioxin levels in residents of a 50-mile area of waterways and floodplains tainted for much of the last century by air and liquid emissions from the plant.
The updated report determined that study participants whose homes are on contaminated soil don't have higher dioxin levels in their blood than residents whose property is not contaminated. That contradicts a version issued in 2006, which said participants with elevated dioxin levels in their yards also had higher levels of dioxin in their bodies.
In another reversal, the new report said people who eat fish from the Tittabawassee River, the Saginaw River and Lake Huron's Saginaw Bay -- all of which are in the polluted zone -- have no more dioxin in their blood than neighbors who don't eat fish from the waters.
Despite that revision, the report recommends that people follow advisories about eating fish from the waterways and not eat meat from livestock raised on contaminated grounds.
"The message is, don't worry about dust and soil but be careful about food," said study leader David Garabrant, a U-M epidemiologist.
Skeptics have questioned the study's credibility because Dow is covering the costs. Garabrant said his team had independence and reported to an oversight board of university and government scientists.
Dow spokeswoman Mary Draves said the updated report and other studies show that "there is no imminent threat to people living in the area on contaminated soils."
Michelle Hurd Riddick of the Lone Tree Council, which has criticized the cleanup, said the study had too few participants to draw conclusions.