Acceptable RiskTM Announcement

May 3, 2005

"Risk Calculator" helps ensure sound business practice

When government is made to take the back seat in regulatory matters, corporations must rely on their own judgment to determine what is, and what isn't, acceptable where human lives are at risk.

Doing this has until now been more of an art than a science. With Acceptable Risk, business finally has a risk standard of its own, reflecting its values and allowing us to reliably factor human and environmental casualties into business decisions in accordance with the soundest of economic principles.

Last Thursday in London, Dow representative Erastus Hamm unveiled Acceptable Risk, the Acceptable Risk Calculator, and the Acceptable Risk mascot--a life-sized golden skeleton named Gilda--to an audience of about 70 banking professionals, including some from Dow's largest investors. Many of the bankers in attendance excitedly signed up for licenses for the Calculator, which helps businesses scientifically determine the point where casualties start to cut into profit, while suggesting the best regions on earth to locate dangerous ventures.

Hamm told the bankers how Acceptable Risk would have applied to some famous "skeletons in the closet" of big business: IBM's WWII sale of technology to the Nazis for use in identifying Jews; Dow's production of napalm and Agent Orange for use in Vietnam; and the plight of Dursban, a Dow pesticide whose main ingredient came out of Nazi nerve agent research, was tested on student volunteers as recently as 1998, and was finally banned two years later.

Each of these cases entailed heavy casualties, Hamm noted, and yet each was immensely profitable and therefore consistent with sound business practice. Hamm said the case of the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984 was slightly more complicated--but so long as so-called "socially responsible" investor groups do not get away with forcing Dow to spend too much time on the matter at the May 12 AGM and elsewhere, that case could end up being a "golden skeleton" too.

Please visit to try out the Acceptable Risk Calculator for yourself, and for text, photos and video of the London announcement.

Return to Acceptable Risk

environment, health & safety