Dow Chemical – Report on Chemicals With Known Links to Asthma and Other Respiratory Problems (2007)
Whereas: Approximately half of Dow’s end-use pesticide products (73 of 149) may be linked to asthma and other respiratory problems through active or inert ingredients or metabolites. Common Dow pesticide products with ingredients linked to respiratory problems include: FulTime, Dursban, Glyphomax, Tordon, Telone, Starane, Dithane, Widematch and more.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 16 million people in the U.S. suffer from asthma. Since the mid-1980s, asthma rates have reached epidemic levels.
The CDC states that nearly 1 in 8 school-aged children have asthma, the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness. Children are more susceptible than adults to asthma; lungs do not fully develop until at least the eighth year after birth, making a child vulnerable to pesticides and other pollutants linked to asthma. The number of children dying from asthma increased almost threefold from 1979 to 1996. The estimated annual cost of treating childhood asthma is $3.2 billion.
According to a 2004 study in Environmental Health Perspectives, pesticides are both a trigger and root cause of asthma. Researchers discovered that children exposed to herbicides are four and a half times more likely to be diagnosed with asthma before age five; toddlers exposed to insecticides are over two times more likely to get asthma.
In addition to its retail and wholesale pesticide products, Dow produces many active ingredients in pesticides ultimately sold by other companies. For example, Dow is the sole US producer of 2,4-D, and one of the world’s largest producers of chlorpyrifos, both of which are linked to asthma.
Data from CDC’s 2005 National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals found 76% of Americans have chlorpyrifos metabolites in their bodies. Children ages 6-11 have exposure at four times the level EPA considers acceptable for long-term exposure. Additionally, more than 25% of Americans have 2,4-D in their bodies, with highest concentrations also found in children ages 6-11. Proponents believe that CDC’s data may aid in correlation of exposures to disease, which could in turn increase legal liabilities for Dow.
Resolved: Shareholders request that the Board establish an independent panel, controlling for conflict of interest, to publish by May 2008, at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, a report analyzing the extent to which Dow product categories may cause or exacerbate asthma, and describing public policy initiatives, and Dow policies and activities, to phase out or restrict materials linked with such effects.
Shareholder Supporting Statement
Proponents believe the report should include any and all Dow product categories or groupings found in peer-reviewed literature to potentially cause and/or trigger asthma, including end-use pesticides (and their inert ingredients and metabolites), pesticide active ingredients and other chemicals.