Only a few weeks after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it has found potential clean-air and hazardous waste violations at Dow Chemical’s Midland, Michigan facility, federal scientists have announced that they have found a new toxic “hot spot” in the Saginaw River. The “hot spot”–a result of a concentration of dioxin released into the river by Dow Chemical–is twenty times higher than any previously recorded by the EPA. According to media reports, the “hot spot” has a concentration of 1.6 million parts per trillion, fifty times higher than the previously largest “hot spot” found in the Saginaw River. In Michigan, any contamination greater than 1,000 parts per trillion requires “corrective action.”
The Michigan Department of Community Health has issued a fish consumption advisory for the entire Saginaw River because of the discovery. Dow Chemical has said that “we don’t believe there’s any imminent or significant human health or environmental threat.” Despite Dow’s claims, it is currently cleaning up three “hot spots” on the Tittabawassee River due to health effects associated with dioxin. EPA studies have shown that dioxin damages livers, weakens immune systems, and affects reproduction In Michigan, residents living on the Tittabawassee River have been found to have 28% higher median levels of dioxin-like chemicals in their bodies.