It appears then, that the decision to buy Times Beach was motivated in part by the Reagan administration's concern about the EPA's image of inaction. Furthermore, the action was in part necessitated by the need to aid utterly destitute flood victims. The question remains then of assessing the danger of dioxin exposure.
How dangerous is dioxin to humans? The answer seems to be that nobody really knows. The claim that dioxin is one of the deadliest substances known to man is based on its extreme toxicity in guinea pigs.  No human deaths have yet been reported. Other animal tests, particularly in rats, clearly show that dioxin is a potent "carcinogen," but scientific opinion is divided as to whether it can cause cancer by itself or whether its only action is to promote cancer in cells that are already cancerous. Evidence for cancer in humans is far from conclusive. The American Medical Association's Advisory panel on toxic substances summed up these findings in an October, 1981, report:
There is little substantive evidence for the many claims that have been made against dioxin and related compounds. While suggestive, the data from animal toxicity studies are not necessarily applicable to man. Yet the Times Beach exposure may represent the greatest long term exposure to dioxins in history and as such will be looked at closely. The government is trying to resolve the uncertainties with a wide variety of epidemiological studies that will cost more the $100 million. If dioxin is the hazard that some believe it is, the costs of moving entire towns probably are not greater than the risks of letting people continue to live there.
 Rebecca L. Rawis, "Dioxin's Human toxicity is most difficult problem," Chemical and Engineering News, 6 June, 1983, p. 37.
 Robert Signor, "Dioxin effect on humans seems mild so far," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5 Dec., 1982, sec A, p. 1.