Dow is committed to responsibly manufacturing and supplying the building blocks of chemistry that help produce essential products to make our lives safer, healthier and more convenient. We acknowledge dioxins and furans are unwanted by-products of chlorine chemistry and have undertaken considerable efforts to reduce dioxin and furan emissions to the environment.
Scientific studies of people who have had exposures to dioxins hundreds or even thousands of times higher than background levels (as documented by blood measurements) have not consistently demonstrated any adverse health effects other than chloracne in some cases. Temporary liver and other biochemical changes have been reported in some studies. These temporary changes have not led to long-term adverse health impacts in people.
Since 1967, Dow scientists have conducted numerous studies among its employees around the world who have been exposed to a variety of chemicals, including certain dioxin and dioxin-like chemicals. Results of all studies demonstrate the same conclusion — that Dow employees who were exposed to high levels of dioxin in an industry setting generally do not have a higher risk of disease, with the exception of chloracne¹, which occurred in employees who experienced very high exposure levels.
Dow has reduced dioxin and furan emissions and actively promotes technology improvements across the chemical industry. Dow believes actions taken to lessen potential human exposure should be specific to a particular situation. Decisions should be based on science and risk principles and the realistic probability for exposure and absorption into the body. We seek science and risk-based solutions that protect human health, the environment, and contribute to the well-being of local communities. For additional information, see Dow’s Progress on Reducing Emissions.
Managing Issues Related to Historical Operations
Many of the legacy issues surrounding dioxins and furans relate to discontinued products, production processes and waste handling practices. We are managing those issues related to our historical operations. For additional information, see Current Regional Issues.
Dow supports a consistent, coordinated regulatory environment for substances at global, national and regional levels to complement voluntary industry efforts.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Reassessment
The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) panel reviewed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) draft dioxin reassessment and issued its report in July 2006. Overall, the NAS panel was critical of EPA’s approach and recommended EPA make a number of significant changes to the draft dioxin reassessment. In response, EPA revised the draft assessment, for review by its Science Advisory Board (SAB). The report issued by the SAB at the end of August 2011 was critical of EPA's treatment of cancer endpoints. Specifically, the SAB was critical of EPA's refusal to do a non-linear dose-response assessment for cancer endpoints or to attempt to bound the uncertainty associated with its cancer risk models. EPA anticipates issuing its final dioxin reassessment for non-cancer endpoints in January 2012, but has not set a date for the release of the dioxin reassessment for cancer endpoints.
- Stockholm POPs Treaty
Dioxins are one of the 21 chemicals or chemical categories currently covered under the Stockholm POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants) treaty (12 original and 9 added in May 2009). Dow actively supports this international agreement. For additional information, see Stockholm Treaty/Persistent Organic Pollutants.