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One Planet: How the production of Cascade dishwasher detergent contributes to elevated cancer risks in multiple communities across the South

BASF surfactants help differentiate Cascade from other detergents. Credit:Still life photo illustration by Kathleen Flynn, special to ProPublica

On this edition of Your Call’s One Planet Series, we're discussing a ProPublica investigation about BASF, the world’s largest chemical maker. The German-based company produces ingredients for America’s most common products, including soaps, surface cleaners, and dishwasher detergent.

ProPublica pieced together the supply chain of a single BASF produced chemical found in Cascade dishwasher detergent. According to Propublica’s analysis, BASF’s footprint of cancer-causing air pollution is larger than that of any other foreign-owned company in the US and is the fourth-largest toxic footprint among all companies operating in this country. For decades, BASF has been emitting cancer causing toxic pollutants harming the health of nearly one million people in multiple communities across the Southern US.


Max Blau, investigative reporter with ProPublica's South bureau, covering health care, public health, and the environment

Lylla Younes, reporter and developer on ProPublica’s New Apps team

John Beard, Jr., founder, president, and executive director of the Port Arthur Community Action Network

Web Resources:

Propublica: The Dirty Secret of America’s Clean Dishes

Port Arthur Community Action Network

Malihe Razazan is the senior producer of KALW's daily call-in program, Your Call.
Rose Aguilar has been the host of Your Call since 2006. She became a regular media roundtable guest in 2001. In 2019, the San Francisco Press Club named Your Call the best public affairs program. In 2017, The Nation named it the most valuable local radio show.