Dow’s Dioxin Production Brings Protests

March 23, 2005

Roughly 50 protesters including environmental groups and Vietnam veterans came together in New Plymouth, New Zealand last Sunday to denounce decades of dioxins produced by Dow Chemical Company, according to New Zealand news yesterday.

To commemorate all the victims of chemical and dioxin poisoning, including victims of the 1984 Bhopal Disaster that claimed an estimated 8,000, the protesters laid a symbolic wreath and called upon Dow to set up a nationwide fund to pay for the medical care of those affected by dioxin poisoning.

“’Dow knew what they were doing, they’ve known from the 40s the nature of this dioxin. They didn’t tell the population of the risks of this and yet they have made huge profits,’” an environmental consultant, Gordon
Jackman, told the reporter.

Both the National Institutes of Health and an EPA Scientific Advisory Panel have classified dioxin as a known human carcinogen, despite record levels of industry lobbying. Dioxin exposure can also cause birth defects, reproductive problems such as spontaneous abortions, liver damage, chloracne, and lower IQ and emotional problems in children.

Dioxins are created in the environment as a function of the industrial production process, including the making of some pesticides. Pesticide products include contaminants and impurities that are often responsible for the product’s hazards. Dioxin is a contaminant in an unknown number of pesticides created as. For example, dioxin is known to be a contaminant in Pentachlorophenol, a wood preserving chemical used on most telephone poles in the U.S.

The popular chemical used in lawn care pesticides (particularly weed and feed products), 2,4-D contains half the ingredients in Agent Orange. The US sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange and other defoliants on Vietnam from 1962 to 1971. Certain areas of Vietnam are still finding high contamination of dioxin left from the war.

Studies have found several forms of dioxin have been identified in 2,4-D, including 2,3,7,8-TCDD, at levels greater than one part per billion. In January of this year, EPA acknowledged that dioxin was detected some samples of 2,4-D in 1987 but that “potential dietary exposures based on 2,4-D tolerances, indicated that dietary risks from dioxin contamination of 2,4-D were not of concern,” and that the manufacturers of the pesticide will be providing the agency with proof that “the manufacturing process for 2,4-D has been refined to minimize the likelihood that dioxin will be formed.” No such data has been submitted to date.

NEWS-2005-M03-23-001 | Beyond Pesticides, March 23, 2005 |


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