Dioxin King

A SEPTEMBER 1995 GREENPEACE report found that chlorine-based products produced by Dow Chemical -- including PVC plastics, pesticides, and solvents -- constitute the world's largest source of dioxins. The report describes a Dow campaign to obscure dioxin sources, deny their connection to industrial chlorine chemistry and work through corporate front groups to fight restrictions on chlorine use.

"The only way for Dow to avoid generating dioxin is to phase-out the production of chlorine-based products," says Greenpeace toxics campaigner Charlie Cray.

Dioxin has been linked to a range of health problems, including a variety of cancers, endometriosis, declining fertility, immune system suppression and birth defects.

Claims that Dow is the world's largest source of dioxin are "completely inaccurate," says Joe Stearns, Dow's director of environmental affairs for chemicals. "The Environmental Protection Agency, in their dioxin reassessment, indicated that municipal and hospital waste is the largest [dioxin] source," he says.

The Chemical Manufacturers' Association, of which Dow is the second largest member, launched a trade group -- the Chlorine Chemistry Council (CCC) -- to defend the use of chlorinated organic compounds, the report says.

The Greenpeace report says the CCC published a 1,000-page "scientific" report, prepared by consultants who concluded that chlorinated organic chemicals cannot be regulated and do not harm people or the environment

By Ross Brockley
Ross Brockley is a freelance writer living in West Virginia.