A recent investigation has uncovered high dioxin levels in household and agricultural pesticides.

Dioxin is well-known as one of the main components in Agent Orange, a chemical agent employed by the United States to decimate crops and forests in Vietnam. An investigation by the ABC news show ‘Four Corners’ has uncovered disturbing evidence about dioxin contamination in household pesticides, reportedly not detected by authorities due to the lack of routine testing.

One component of Agent Orange has been banned, but its other main ingredient is still being used in farms and gardening applications. 

Lee Bell from the National Toxics Network lobby group says the powerful poison could be anywhere: “it's used in pastures and cropland for broad leaf control... it's also used in areas that people probably wouldn't' expect, such as turf spraying for sporting fields, for councils in their cosmetic applications - for verges and those sorts of things.”

The compound was believed to be safe for pesticide applications until a few years ago.  Professor Caroline Gaus was part of a team that assessed the chemical recently, saying “I was actually surprised - because you only analysed one formulation and actually returned such a high result. I thought it was unlikely today, but again, that is a reality check when we think back to our previous study where we actually didn't expect any contamination in the pesticides.

The consumer rights organisation is concerned about the possible health effects too, and has called for monitoring of pesticide ingredients and ratios to be more strictly monitored. Experts say there is a risk that chemicals are being introduced to the environment through farming practices and to humans through the food they consume.