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Dow Chemical Scandal Top 20

20 Things to Remember About Dow Chemical

Dow Chemical Scandal20. Agent Orange/Napalm — The toxic herbicide and jellied gasoline used in Vietnam created horrors for young and old alike — and an uproar back home that forced Dow to rethink its public relations strategy.

19. Rocky Flats — The top secret Colorado site managed by Dow Chemical from 1952 to 1975 remains an environmental nightmare for the Denver area.


18. Body burden — In March 2001, the Centers for Disease Control reported that most people in the United States carry detectable levels of plastics, pesticides and heavy metals in their blood and urine.

17. 2,4-D — An herbicide produced by Dow Chemical, 2,4-D is still in used for killing lawn weeds, crop weeds and range weeds, and along utility company rights-of way and railroad tracks. One of the key ingredients in Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used in Vietnam, 2,4-D is the most widely used herbicide in the world.

16. Mercury — In Canada, Dow had been producing chlorine using the mercury cell method since 1947. Much of the mercury was recycled, but significant quantities were discharged into the environment through air emissions, water discharges, waste sludge and in end products. In March 1970, the governments of Ontario and Michigan detected high levels of mercury in the fish in the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River and Lake Erie. Dow was sued by state and local officials for mercury pollution.

15. PERC — Perchloroethylene is the hazardous substance used by dry cleaners everywhere. Dow tried to undermine safer alternatives.

14. 2,4,5 T — This is one of the toxic ingredients in Agent Orange. Doyle says that “Dow just fought tooth and nail over this chemical — persisted every way it could in court and with the agencies, at the state and federal levels, to buy more time for this product. They went into a court in Arkansas in the early 1970s to challenge the EPA administrator. They did that to buy some extra marketing time, and they got two years, even though it appears that Dow knew this chemical was a bad actor by then, caused birth defects in lab animals, and was also being found in human body fat by then. But it wasn't until 1983 that Dow quit making 2,4,5-T in the United States, and 1987 before they quit production in New Zealand. And 2,4,5-T health effects litigation continues to this day.”

13. Busting unions — In 1967, unions represented almost all of Dow's production workers. But since then, according to the Metal Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, Dow undertook an “unapologetic campaign to rid itself of unions.”

12. Silicone — The key ingredient for silicone breast implants, made by a joint venture between Dow and Corning (Dow Corning), made women sick. Litigation over silicone breast implants — removed from the market more than a decade ago — continues.

11. DBCP — DBCP is the toxic active ingredient in the Dow pesticide Fumazone. Doctors who tested men who worked with DBCP thought they had vasectomies — they had no sperm present.

10. Dursban — Dursban is the trade name for chlorpyrifos, a toxic pesticide, a product that proved to have the nerve agent effects that Rachel Carson warned about. It was tested on prisoners in New York in 1971 and in 1998 at a lab in Lincoln, Nebraska. It replaced DDT when DDT was banned in 1972. A huge seller, in June 2000, EPA limited its use and forced it off the market at the end of 2004.


9. Dow at Christmas — “Uses of Dow plastics by the toy industry are across the board,” boasted Dow Chemical in an internal company memo one Christmas season — “and more and more of our materials are found under the Christmas tree and on the birthday table, make some child, some toy company, and Dow, very happy indeed.” Among the chemicals used in these toys — polystyrene, polyethylene, ethylene copolymer resins, saran resins, PVC resins, or vinyls and ethyl cellulose. And a Happy New Year.

8.The Tittabawassee — The Tittabawassee is a river and river basin polluted by Dow in its hometown, Midland, Michigan.

7. Brazos River, Freeport, Texas — A February 1971 headline in the Houston Post read: “Brazos River is Dead.” In 1970 and 1971, Dow's operation there was sending more than 4.5 billion gallons of wastewater per day into the Brazos and on into the Gulf of Mexico.

6. Toxic Trespass — Doyle writes: “Dow Chemical has been polluting property and poisoning people for nearly a century, locally and globally — trespassing on workers, consumers, communities, and innocent bystanders — on wildlife and wild places, on the global biota and the global genome. ... Dow Chemical must end its toxic trespass.”

5. Holmesburg Experiments — In January 1981, a Philadelphia Inquirer story revealed that Dow Chemical paid a University of Pennsylvania dermatologist to test dioxin on prisoners at Holmesburg Prison in Philadelphia. Tests were conducted in 1964 on 70 inmates.

4. Worker deaths — Dow has a long history of explosions and fires at its facilities, well documented by Doyle. One example, in May 1979: an explosion ripped through Dow Chemical's Pittsburgh facility, killing two workers and injuring more than 45 others.

3. Brain tumors — In 1980, investigators found 25 workers with brain tumors at the company's Freeport, Texas facility — 24 of which were fatal.

2. Saran Wrap — The thin slice of plastic invaluable to our lives, Saran Wrap was produced by Dow until consumers were looking for Dow products to boycott. Dow decided to get out of consumer products for this reason — it sold off Saran Wrap — and since then the company, now the world's largest plastics maker, just manufactures the chemical feeds that manufacturers use to make our consumer products.

1. Bhopal — Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we seek to bring to justice those who trespass against us.


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