Support service for dioxin exposed people

On 1 July 2008 the Ministry launched a health service for people who were exposed to dioxin from the former Ivon Watkins Dow factory in Paritutu, New Plymouth.

On this page:


Who is eligible?

You may be eligible for this service if you lived or worked or went to school near the former IWD factory between 1962 and 1987. Your friends and family may also be eligible for the service.

If you are eligible, you are entitled to an annual health check-up from your primary care team. The exact content of the check-up will depend on your health needs. You may also be referred to other health services like smoking cessation, physical activity and nutrition support, primary mental health care, or genetic counselling. Serum dioxin testing may also be available in some circumstances.

To use this Service, you will need to make an application to have your eligibility assessed. Application forms and guidance are available below. Other useful information includes information about dioxin exposure and its association with adverse health effects, and detailed information about the support service.

If you have any questions about making an application, or your eligibility, you can call the Health Support Service Information Line (0800 288 588).

Information for applicants and service users

If you were exposed to dioxin from the former Ivon Watkins Dow factory in Paritutu, New Plymouth, you may be eligible for the Health Support Service that has been set up.

How to apply

To apply for the Health Support Service, complete the application form below after reading the guidance for the application form.

Health Support Service factsheet

An introduction to the Health Support Service, including eligibility information:

Information for health practitioners

A guide to dioxins and their health effects (previously published as the Dioxins Fact Sheet):

An introduction for GPs to the Health Support Service:

Questions and answers about serum dioxin testing – a blood test that can detect the amount of dioxin in blood:

Suggested format for the annual health check, as part of the Health Support Service for Dioxin Exposed People:

For practice use – patient questionnaire for the annual health check:

Background – Health Support Service for Dioxin Exposed People

News and updates

1 July 2008: Support Service for Dioxin Exposed People now available
On 1 July 2008 the Ministry of Health launched a new health service for people who were exposed to dioxin from the former Ivon Watkins Dow (IWD) factory in Paritutu, New Plymouth.

29 April 2008: Health support service for people exposed to dioxin
The Ministry of Health will implement a prevention-focused health support service for people exposed to dioxin from the former Ivon Watkins Dow (IWD) agrichemicals plant in Paritutu, New Plymouth. This service will be available from 1 July 2008.

9 October 2007: Summary of submissions released
The summary of submissions from consultation carried out in 2007 and project reports which assessed the evidence and the options for health support services are published on the Allen & Clarke website.

Questions and answers

1. Why was this work being undertaken?

A 2005 serum dioxins study concluded that a group of people who lived for at last 15 years within 400 m and 1 km east of the Ivon Watkins-Dow (IWD) plant in Paritutu, between 1962 and 1987, were more likely to have significantly higher dioxin levels than other New Zealanders. At that time the Ministry of Health noted that it was possible that the dioxin levels found may have health consequences for individuals and there may be a small impact on cancer mortality rates for this group of people.

2. Who undertook the scoping of, and consulting on, the programme?

Allen & Clarke Policy and Regulatory Specialists Limited is a well-established, Wellington-based company with specialist policy development, legal, machinery of government, and research expertise. The company has 16 permanent staff, and numerous associates on call to provide additional policy, technical and administrative support as required. Allen & Clarke works in New Zealand and internationally to support the work of public sector and local government organisations formulating and implementing policy initiatives and regulatory instruments. Further information on Allen & Clarke is available on the Allen & Clarke website.

3. Why did they develop the framework for this programme?

The Ministry of Health decided to out-source the scoping of, and consultation on, the proposed programme to an external provider so that the development work could be undertaken immediately. The project was put out to tender in September 2006 and Allen and Clarke were appointed in March 2007.

4. What expertise does Allen & Clarke have on this issue?

Allen & Clarke has a track record of undertaking objective and rigorous reviews of this nature, both for the Ministry of Health and other public service agencies. They have considerable public health policy and programme expertise and experience, and the ability to buy-in other specialist expertise on this project as required, such as the services of an epidemiologist. Examples of Allen & Clarke’s work can be found on the Allen & Clarke website.

5. Was this an independent review and, if so, then why Allen & Clarke?

This project was not an independent review. Allen & Clarke undertook the project on behalf of the Ministry of Health. The Ministry set clear terms of reference for the project. Allen & Clarke reported all findings to the Ministry. It also engaged directly with, consulted, and reported back their findings to the community.

6.Was Dow AgroSciences involved in this project?

No. Allen & Clarke consulted with key industry stakeholders, including Dow AgroSciences, on the development of a health support service.

7. What other provisions currently exist for former Ivon Watkins-Dow workers?

Former IWD workers affected by workplace exposure to dioxin may be eligible for compensation through ACC. A process that will ‘fast-track’ applications from workers who advise they may have been exposed to dioxins from the IWD plant in Paritutu has been put in place to ensure cover is considered as quickly as possible.

The New Plymouth office of the Department of Labour has staff and an occupational physician dedicated to help former IWD workers concerned about historical workplace exposure to dioxins, and they will help by providing information about dioxin and its possible workplace effects, and referring them to ACC or a local health service provider if required. Alternatively, former workers can contact ACC directly on free phone 0800 101 996.

8. What provisions currently exist for Vietnam veterans?

New Zealand service personnel in Vietnam were exposed to a toxic environment (including Agent Orange and a number of other herbicides). Vietnam veterans and their families continue to be affected by this historic exposure.

In 2006 the Government agreed a package of measures to address the health and wellbeing needs of veterans and, where appropriate, their immediate families. The package includes: ongoing research into intergenerational effects of dioxins; a Veteran’s Card issued to veterans and their children and grandchildren to allow easy identification by medical practitioners; a national register of veterans, their children and grandchildren; provision of information to assist treatment and diagnosis and centres of excellence on veteran’s conditions; and a one-off comprehensive medical examination for veteran’s by a registered practitioner and/or a specialist.

The package of measures also includes a range of one-off ex gratia payments to veterans with a prescribed condition, partners/spouses of veterans who died of a prescribed condition, children of veterans suffering from an accepted condition and families of veteran’s children who died of an accepted condition. The prescribed conditions are those on the US Institute of Medicine’s ‘sufficient evidence of association with exposure to Agent Orange’ list: chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, soft tissue sarcoma, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease, and chloracne. The accepted conditions suffered by Veteran’s children are: spina bifida, cleft lip, cleft palate, acute myeloid leukaemia, adrenal gland cancer. Further details of the provisions are on the Vietnam Veterans website.

Further information

For further information on this project, please either email the Ministry of Health, or the project team at Allen & Clarke Policy and Regulatory Specialists Limited.

For information on Allen & Clarke please visit their website.

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