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E-M:/ Citizens Call on Dow to Come Clean in Wake of PBS documentary

Title: Citizens Call on Dow to Come Clean in Wake of PBS docu
CONTACT: Diane Hebert 517-832-1694
Terry Miller 517-686-6386
Dave Dempsey 517-487-9539

PBS documentary on chemical industry highlights Dow, suggests reasons for concern

[Midland, Michigan] - Concerned environmental organizations today urged the
Department of Environmental Quality to take action to address ongoing
contamination in the Midland community, and to investigate whether the Dow
Chemical Company has been forthright with state regulators about the hazards
of their products and contamination at their headquarters in Midland.

In the wake of a PBS chemical industry documentary aired last night, state
environmentalists are concerned that the industry may be hiding other
critical information, and delaying action to clean up contaminated areas.
The PBS documentary, "Trade Secrets" revealed chemical industry documents,
including some from Dow Chemical and its trade associations, which suggest
the industry lied to the public about the hazards of chemicals they produce.
Among the accusations in the documentary is a charge that Dow Chemical,
along with other chemical companies, signed a secrecy agreement to prevent
information on the hazards of vinyl chloride from coming to light.

"The documentary suggests the chemical industry is not to be trusted to
protect health and the environment," said Diane Hebert, Director of
Environmental Health Watch and Midland resident.

Indeed, recent actions by Dow in Michigan suggest the industry may still
need to come clean:

       A Dow representative asked a leading researcher to delay publication of his research showing that a commonly used chemical (bisphenol-A) produced by Dow (found in compact discs and other items) might be hazardous.

  Dow has sought to weaken cleanup standards for dioxin in soils in
Michigan.  Dioxin contamination 'hotspots' have been found in the Midland
community.  Dioxin is among the most toxic compounds known, and is currently
being reviewed by the EPA.  The EPA review has found that the compound is
more, not less, toxic to human health.

       Dow has been meeting behind closed doors with senior MDEQ officials to develop a shared press strategy to downplay risks while contamination in the Midland community remains, without cleanup. This has been done without input from the broader community.
       In 1997, Dow sent out a press release announcing a new study they had completed on workers exposed to dioxin.  They claimed the study found no elevated disease.  When challenged by environmentalists, the company then "sharpened their pencils," and found health effects.  This error was not adequately corrected in the media. 

Specifically, environmentalists in Michigan are seeking legislative
oversight of the MDEQ to insure that contamination in the Midland community
is addressed.  Environmentalists are also asking for the following actions
to address long-standing contamination in Midland:

o     Significantly increase the area sampled in Midland to pinpoint any public health risks from dioxin contamination around Dow facilities
o Fully inform residents of sampling and warn them of any risks
o  Determine sources of contamination and develop a comprehensive cleanup plan
o       Undertake a comprehensive health assessment in Midland to determine whether dioxin contamination has caused health effects
o       Strengthen the state's weak cleanup standard for dioxin

Environmentalists are also seeking legislative hearings at the national
level to uncover any secrets the industry may be hiding about the safety of
chemicals used today.

"Chemical companies have long fought government safeguards to protect public
health.  Its time for the industry to come clean. Dow can start by
addressing the ongoing contamination of the community surrounding their
headquarters," said Hebert.

For documents related to this press release, visit our website at
www.ecocenter.org.  To learn more about the national campaign to urge the
chemical industry to come clean visit  www.comeclean.org.  To see for
yourself the extensive archive of chemical industry documents that form the
basis of the Moyer's report, visit www.ewg.org.