Dow Chemical Philadelphia Plant

The former Rohm and Haas chemical plant currently owned by Dow Chemical Co. was a chemical plant located in Bridesburg, which is a section of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The global specialty chemical company manufactured specialty coatings, adhesives, salt, and electronic materials. Rohm and Haas employed 16,500 people around the world, with sales totals reaching $7.9 billion in 2005. This particular plant was originally purchased from Charles Lenning and Company in 1920. Similar plants in the area date back as far as the 1860s.

The plant went on to produce two of the main products used by Dow Chemical Co. as part of the company’s performance chemical business. The plant became the worldwide supplier of the Ion Exchange Resin, a uniform bead- size copolymer. The plant also produced an herbicide known as Goal, which was utilized by Dow AgroSciences. The plant’s final years focused on these two main products and the chemicals necessary for their production.

Rohm and Haas operated the Bridesburg, Pennsylvania site since the 1920s, eventually selling it to Dow Chemical Co. Dow originally tried to rescind the sales agreement due to economic forecasts. The facility is now closed, and an environmental decommissioning process was necessary.

Despite this plant no longer being in production the risk of exposure to harmful materials, including asbestos, remains a threat to former employees.  Because of the age of this plant this type of exposure is likely.  The frequent use of asbestos as insulation for machinery, plumbing, and other equipment is a leading cause of mesothelioma.  Development of mesothelioma is seen even today among former employees of plants such as this one.  Asbestos removal or encapsulation sometimes performed on plants makes no difference for past employees who underwent prolonged exposure. The Bridesburg site remains on a list of potential plants that exposed their employees to asbestos.