Talking about our Contamination Legacy
Dioxin contamination in the Whakatane district touches onto the lives of people from all walks of
life. We use science to describe the chemistry and biology of contamination, and can assess the
seriousness of contamination using concepts such as risk and exposure pathways.
But science can be complex and scary and contamination means different things for different
people. Ancestral links to land and water can be a more powerful emotional driver of the
seriousness of contamination than scientific principles of risk and exposure.
Science can describe the structure of dioxin with a chemical model like the ones shown here.
Chemists use these pictures to describe the structural layout of a molecule, its components, and
what each component is bound to.
This tells us much about the chemical components of the molecule, and what different elements are bound to, but says nothing about what dioxin means to people, or how dangerous it can be.
The colours represent oxygen (red), chlorine (green) and hydrogen (white). The black structure that makes up the backbone of this compound is carbon.