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Dioxins are a gaggle of chemicals that form as unwanted byproducts from incomplete burning of household and industrial waste. They also can be produced during bleaching of paper pulp and the manufacture of certain chlorinated chemicals like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlorinated phenols, chlorinated benzene and certain pesticides. Forest fires, exhaust or dust from vehicles, and burning wood can also releases dioxins into the air. Very small amounts of dioxins, that aren't considered harmful, are present in bleached paper products including facial or toilet paper, paper towels, and disposable diapers.

Dioxins are detected in soil, surface water, sediment, plants and tissue. Dioxins formed during the burning of fuel and wastes are released into the air. Soil near the burn areas also could also be contaminated with dioxins. Surface water bodies can become polluted when rainwater carries soil containing dioxins into surface water and when some industries releases their dioxin-contaminated waste directly into surface water.

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