Other performance plastic intermediates and products manufactured by Dow include bisphenol a, polyurethane and epichlorohydrin amongst others.
The water solutions business unit of Dow Chemical Company manufactures Film Tec reverse osmosis membranes. These membranes are largely used for water purification for human use and include Dowlex ion exchange resins and Carbowax polyethylene glycols. The agricultural segment of Dow Chemical Company, Dow Agro Sciences, produces various agricultural chemicals and consumer products. This segment is not only responsible for herbicides, insecticides and fungicides, but it also sells different agricultural seeds commercially. On the other hand, consumer products include various chemicals like detergents, soaps and cosmetics.
Despite the fact that Dow Chemical Company is the world's second largest chemical manufacturing firm, the company is also infamous for production of chemicals that are harmful to human beings. Throughout its history, Dow Chemical Company has from time to time come under serious criticism because of the various harmful effects that some of its products have had on human beings as well as the environment. One of the reasons why this company, its subsidiaries and affiliated companies has been criticized and scrutinized is because Dow Company is largest manufacturer of chlorine in the world. Environmental groups have advocated for the phasing-out of industrial production and use of chlorine.
Although most of Dow Chemical products do not have diverse harmful and potentially harmful chemicals, some of the company's products have had serious effects on the environment. These products include:
This is one of the products of Dow Chemical Company that has had harmful effects on human beings. Agent Orange, which is a code name for one herbicides and defoliants produced by Dow, acquired its name (orange) due to the fact that it was shipped to the Vietnam War in orange-striped gallons. The product was largely used in the Vietnam War by the United States military in its herbicidal war program. The product is a mixture of different chemicals which are dichlorophenoxyacetic and trichlorophenoxyacetic acids.
According to scientific research, Agent Orange as well as its components and manufacturing by-products causes serious health effects. Some of the health effects caused by this product include birth defects and still births in mice. As a result of manufacturing Agent Orange in high temperatures, the product becomes contaminated with a dioxin known as tetrachlorodibenzodioxin making it dangerous for human health.
Dow Chemical Company has also been considered as one of the twelve companies endangering people's lives in the United States. This is because over six million people reside in Dow Chemical's vulnerability zones. The release of hazardous substances to the environment during the manufacturing processes at Dow can reach the level of concern in airborne concentration under specific weather conditions. This is a serious environmental hazard as people living in these zones are at higher risks of being affected by the production of chlorine, hydrocyanic acid and phosgene.
This is the other product that has made Dow Chemical Company infamous. Napalm is a chemical that contains naphthenic and palmitic acids as well as being a gelling agent mixed with gasoline. The product contains various flammable liquids and is generally used in military operations. However, the product has been developed to Napalm B. which is a mixture of polystyrene and benzene. However, Napalm B. causes severe effects when used as an incendiary weapon. Some of the effects caused by napalm include severe burns to the skin and body, unconsciousness and death.
DBCP is a worm-killing pesticide manufactured by Dow and is mainly used on banana trees particularly in Central America. Though the chemical which contains nematodicide is used in killing worms, it also has effects on human beings. Dow Chemical Company has failed in warning workers of the danger posed by this chemical as it makes the workers sterile. In fact, several West African plantation workers filed lawsuits against the company in 2006 because the pesticide, DBCP, made them to become sterile.
This product is manufactured by Dow's pharmaceutical subsidiary, Merrell-Dow, as a morning sickness drug for pregnant mothers. However, the product is suspected to have effects on the mothers leading to birth defects.
Dow is also infamous for manufacturing other chemicals that endanger people's lives. These chemicals include vinyl chloride, styrofoam, dioxin, bisphenol -- a (BPA) as well as other chemicals used in the manufacture of plastics (Lenazun 2010).
Dow Chemical Company has also been on the fore-front in ensuring that its products and chemicals do not continue to endanger people's lives. In fact, as mentioned earlier, most of the company's chemicals and products do not cause effects on human lives. One of the safety measures taken by the company not to endanger people's lives is the collaboration with BASF to develop the Hydrogen Peroxide to Propylene Oxide (HPPO) technology. Actually, the two companies, Dow and BASF, received the 2010 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award. They were honored for their initiative in improving the production process of propylene oxide, a key chemical intermediate.
As compared to conventional propylene oxide technologies, the HPPO technology offers discrete environmental and economic gains. One of the major benefits offered by this innovation as compared to the conventional technology is that it reduces wastewater by approximately 80% while reducing energy use by 35%. Secondly, as compared to the conventional propylene oxide (PO) technology, the Dow-BASF innovation is environmentally friendly as no by-products are produced except water. Finally, the new technology has reduced infrastructure, simpler integration of raw materials and a smaller physical footprint thus requiring less capital to build unlike PO technology. The propylene oxide from this new technology can be used in automobiles, pharmaceuticals, paints, home insulation and furniture applications.
Energy Conservation Measures:
As one of the largest chemical manufacturing company in the world, Dow Chemical Company has been one of the largest energy consumers. In fact, the company's expenses on raw materials and energy have been increasing annually. Given that the company is also one of the leading firms in global products that reduce energy use, Dow has taken several measures to develop alternative solutions in energy conservation and efficiency. These energy efficiency and conservation measures include:
Polyethylene from Sugar Cane Ethanol:
Dow Chemical Company is considering building an integrated world-scale facility that will enable the company to produce polyethylene from ethanol extracted from sugar cane. Polyethylene is the widely-used plastic across the globe and requires ethylene, which can be produced from ethanol found in sugar cane. As compared to the existing polyethylene manufacturing process, the new process will produce less carbon dioxide while generating enough renewable energy ("Dow Energy" n.d.).
Biomass to Ethanol:
In collaboration with the United States Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Dow Chemical Company is planning to develop a process that will convert biomass to ethanol. This process is deemed possible due to Dow's mixed alcohol catalyst, which is considered as the key to this project. Currently, the company's technology helps in converting synthesis gas into a blend of alcohols such as ethanol. This ethanol can not only be used in chemical building blocks but it can also be used in transportation of fuels. The Biomass to Ethanol process will not only utilize non-food ingredients but also use a gasification process to convert bio-based material to synthetic gas.
As one of the leading chemical manufacturing companies, Dow Chemical Company operates in various segments which include basic chemicals, basic plastics, performance chemicals, performance plastics, agricultural sciences as well as hydrocarbons and energy. Therefore, the company serves various industries such as agricultural and automobile industries.
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