Dow Chemical Lobbies EPA to Continue Using Asbestos at its Plants

On this page you will find a number of internal documents from Dow Chemical regarding the toxic nature of asbestos, Dow’s knowledge that a substantial number of its workers would be at risk of developing cancer decades later, a “cost per cancer” analysis Dow performed to determine if it was financially worth while to Dow to stop using the carcinogen, and information about Dow’s current operations that continue to use asbestos even today.

These internal documents show that Dow Chemical was well aware of the fact that asbestos could cancer in people who worked around asbestos. But Dow continued to use asbestos in applications where it would be more costly to use non-asbestos. In fact, Dow Chemical is one of the few companies in the world that continues to use asbestos to this day. Most companies abandoned use of the notorious carcinogen decades ago due to the extreme cancer risks.

As part of this analysis, Dow ran mathematical equations to calculate the company’s potential financial liability from future asbestos cancer lawsuits known as the “cost per cancer” analysis. After crunching all the numbers, Dow determined that it was more cost-effective to continue using asbestos than switching all of the company’s plants to non-asbestos processing methods, which would cost more than $1.2 billion, even if there was a resulting increase of worker cancers.

Dow Chemical put significant efforts into lobbying the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to continue using asbestos at its various plants across the country, despite the well-documented health issues associated with asbestos. Dow has been successful in their lobbying efforts, and continues to use asbestos in their United States plants today. Fortunately, as Dow predicted in their confidential documents, the Dow Chemical lobbying machine was less powerful in other countries, where asbestos has been banned so that workers do not needlessly get cancer.