Following a policy that should come as no
surprise to those familiar with Dow Chemical Company, from 1942
until 1979, Dow released a significant amount of pollutants, dioxin
and furan compounds, into the Tittabawassee River near Midland. The
chemical releases have, consequently, posed a significant health
risk to the people of the Midland area, which Dow fervently denies
is a high-level risk. Dow is currently in secret talks with the
state of Michigan regarding the chemical releases. Not only should
these negotiations not be veiled in secrecy, but Dow needs to
practice more responsible corporate citizenship.

Beth Dykstra

Dioxin is primarily of health concern due to the high
probability of being a carcinogen. The chemical compound is known
to travel significant distances by air before settling to the
ground, where it then binds tightly to vegetation and soil. In
water, dioxins settle down to the sediment and are eaten by fish,
who then pass on the nonbiodegradable dioxin in various forms.

It is estimated that 2,100 Dow employees had potential exposure
to dioxin. Internal studies by Dow revealed it to be a very toxic
compound in laboratory animals, and it is of note dioxin is the
compound in the defoliant Agent Orange that many Vietnam veterans
believe to be the source of their continued health problems.

The objective cancer studies on these compounds consistently
show significant correlation between long-term exposure to dioxins
and soft-tissue cancer, a claim Dow denies, despite its own
internal reports indicating a “ninefold increase” in
such cancers in workers exposed to dioxins over 20 years. Virtually
all of the reports Dow itself provides to the public maintain that
there is “no increased health risk” posed by the
abnormally high levels of these substances in the Midland area,
proving yet again that corporate responsibility is still
nonexistent at the corporation.

Dow abhorrently cites the increased incidences of cancer in its
dioxin-exposed workforce as being “limited by small numbers
and misclassification on death certificates,” and regarding
the incidences of cancer claims, “we cannot exclude the
possible contribution of factors such as smoking and occupational
exposure to other chemicals.” Dow apparently already knows
that its other chemicals can cause cancer in workers, and yet does
nothing about this.

All of this suggests that the secret negotiations Dow is
conducting with the state will probably not help residents. Dow
should act as a responsible corporation and respect the communities
it operates in.

In another example of Dow’s lack of concern for human
life, Dow has fought to deny responsibility and any compensation
after acquiring Union Carbide, the company responsible for
releasing methyl isocyanate into the atmosphere in Bhopal, India.
The incident has killed and permanently debilitated thousands of

Dow has characteristically shown little respect for the
consequences of its policies, and now it appears, with these secret
talks between state regulators and company representatives, that it
may yet again get away with devastating numerous lives. Only this
time, the damage is being done much closer to home.


gress is guilty of simply not passing the correct legislation to
extend unemployment payments, Bush can be faulted for not
exercising his political power and pressuring Congressional
leaders. The federal government must extend unemployment benefits.
Additionally, the administration should look into raising the
minimum wage or providing some form of health insurance to minimum
wage workers in order to help workers make ends meet.

Of course, while presidents are often blamed for economic woes,
it is important to note that politicians lack the capability to
significantly affect growth. Leaders can, however, make a
difference if they take measures to foster employment and lessen
hardships for workers who lost their jobs. Michigan and the
national government need to act now to ensure the current jobless
recovery does not continue to be jobless.

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