Environment: Dioxin Puts Dow on the Spot

Memos of 1965 meeting hint at company's fears

On a chilly morning in March 1965, a highly unusual gathering took place at Dow Chemical Co.'s headquarters in Midland, Mich. Without any corporate fanfare, Dow scientists met with colleagues from three rival firms, Hooker Chemical, Diamond Alkali and Hercules Powder. On the agenda that day was a discussion of the effects on human health of a family of chemicals known as dioxin. The chemicals, including Agent Orange, later used by the U.S. to defoliate the jungles of Viet Nam, are an unwanted byproduct in the...

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