Too often environmental contamination is hidden from those who are most impacted. In many states, the judicial system protects those people by finding that impacted people can bring lawsuits within a certain time from when they knew or should have known of the contamination. Property owners in Michigan won a key decision related to the amount of time to file suit from the Michigan Court of Appeals in a case against Dow Chemical related to dioxin contamination.

Dow argued that the statute of limitations had expired because the public became aware of dioxin pollution in the river in the 1980s. But the appeals court said the key date was in 2002, when Michigan environmental regulators reported high levels in the flood plain in Saginaw County.

Dioxins are environmental pollutants. They belong to the so-called “dirty dozen” – a group of dangerous chemicals known as persistent organic pollutants. Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.

This decision means that the plaintiffs can continue with their case and seek damages for the dioxin contamination believed to be caused by Dow.

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