Comments from a former Dow worker.
Name: David Linhardt
Date: Sep, 09 2004
Based on Lt. Governor Cherry's comments that he prefers to avoid getting "people excited about the dioxin levels in one little spot", it is possible that he might not be aware of some of the underlying basis for the potential excitement.
In 1984, based on only limited sampling, the EPA found a single location in Dow's Midland plant to have a dioxin level of 36,000 ppt TCDD (115,400 ppt TEQ). Prior to 1968, when Dow constructed a new tar burner and upgraded the air pollution control equipment on the 703 waste incinerator, dioxin levels in undisturbed soils inside the plant may have been as high as 87,000 ppt TCDD (656,000 ppt TEQ) based on preliminary modeling of dioxin levels in earlier years.
Several Dow epidemiology studies have confirmed that the Midland plant workers have a statistically significant elevation of the death rate from cancers that are so rare that the International Classification of Diseases has not established a separate category for each cancer. The 1991 NIOSH study of 5,200 dioxin exposed chemical workers found a similar statistically significant elevation. Dow has not been able to explain the elevation of these very rare cancers in its workforce. Dioxin exposure remains a distinct possibility.
From 1940 to 1982, more than 29,000 employees worked at the Midland plant. Dow's Midland plant hardly qualifies as "one little spot". My interest in all of this -- I was a Midland plant employee during the years of potentially high dioxin exposure and, for 5 years, I worked in close proximity to the incinerators.
Will these findings tranlate into the Midland community -- I hope not -- but, without additional sampling and a comprehensive health study, we will never know.