This was printed in the Eugene Register Guard yesterday. Blachly and Triangle Lake are located in the Coast Range of Oregon. The cut off from Highway 99 heading west is about fifteen miles north of Eugene. One of the chemicals, atrazine, is banned in most of Europe and has been lined to various birth defects, cancers and infertility. And it's in most of our water, even if you aren't downwind from a clear cut. Day Owen is also one of the founders of the local Pitchfork Rebellion.
Triangle Lake residents alarmed by pesticide test results
By Day Owen
Appeared in print: Tuesday, May 10, 2011, page A13
My urine — and the urine of 20 of my Triangle Lake area neighbors — was tested and came back positive for two of the most dangerous pesticides: 2,4-D and atrazine.
It is probable that nearly everyone who lives in our coastal mountain logging community also is poisoned. We are now going to offer free tests for children at Triangle Lake School.
Our recent tests were conducted by one of the world’s premier experts: Dana Barr, who for two decades ran the labs at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta. The analytical chemist is a researcher at Emory University, specializing in chemical exposures.
For seven years, we begged the state of Oregon unsuccessfully to test our urine. We knew that the timber industry helicopters that were spraying pesticides from the sky near our homes and schools were making us sick. We got zero help.
The stumbling block was that the pesticide industry is so powerful in Oregon that it exercises considerable control over state government. The agency in charge of investigating pesticide complaints is overseen by the Pesticide Division of the Department of Agriculture, which is heavily influenced by the pesticide industry.
Last year, we petitioned the federal Environmental Protection Agency for redress. It sent an investigator from the CDC, Capt. Richard Kauffman, to look into our allegations of foul play. His report on PARC — the Pesticide Analytical Response Center, overseen by the pesticide division — was scathing.
After seven years of being treated like dirt by Oregon government, we decided to take matters into our own hands and asked Barr to test our urine. Her results proved us right, but we are not celebrating.
Vindication is not sweet when every organ in your body hurts. The yearly spring spraying season has begun, and the amounts of 2,4-D and atrazine in our second urine samples taken in April have gone way up. Many of us are very sick.
awyers.com, a resource for environmental lawyers, lists the dangers of atrazine: increased risk of breast and prostate cancers; birth defects and fetal deaths; low birth weights and premature births; and increased toxic effects when combined with other chemicals.
2,4-D, is also more toxic when combined with other chemicals. Now they are combined in our bodies — along with who knows how many other herbicides that our budget does not permit us to check.
Almost no research has been done on the synergistic effect of several herbicides in the body, but it is believed to create a far more toxic brew than any one pesticide alone.
2,4-D is found in just 2 percent to 4 percent of the general population. But like atrazine, it was found in 100 percent of Triangle Lake residents tested so far.
Here is what we are now asking the state to do. Note that we are especially interested in fixing structural flaws in the spirit of Oregon’s legally mandated policy of best management practices.
We ask that the governor lead an effort to move PARC back under the authority of the state Public Health Division.
We ask that the governor move the authority to establish pesticide buffer zones around homes and schools from the Department of Agriculture to the health division. Pesticide lobbyists previously caused that authority to reside solely with agriculture. That is a glaring structural flaw for two reasons: Agriculture has no expertise in health and environmental toxins. And significantly, it has a financial conflict of interest because it is linked to the pesticide makers.
We ask that the governor order an investigation into exactly how the atrazine and 2,4-D entered our bodies. Both herbicides recently were sprayed aerially near our homes, and we want the governor to confirm the obvious: The stuff drifts farther than industry admits.
Oregon must repeal the part of the Oregon Right to Farm Act that prohibits a county from enacting a pesticide buffer zone.
We believe we have a cancer cluster in our region. We want that studied.
We want meaningful pesticide reform, beginning with adoption of a strong precautionary principle. Whatever steps are necessary to prevent trespass of pesticides into our bodies against our will must be taken, even if that means banning them entirely.
We demand that Oregon alter its rules that currently permit three members of the state Board of Forestry to have financial conflicts of interest.
Unless the above-named structural flaws are remedied, we will file a class action lawsuit alleging that the state of Oregon has failed to abide by best management practices. You can’t put the fox in charge of guarding the henhouse, yet that is exactly what Oregon has done.
Day Owen is the founder of the Pitchfork Rebellion, a forest dwellers support group that can be contacted at P.O. Box 160, Greenleaf, OR 97430.
It's strange, or perhaps not so strange that our so called culture of life seems to be restricted to the question of abortion. Supporting our families, poisoning our land, our animals and our poeple with pesticides and herbicides. We're spending billions to treat the diseases linked to the contamination, but doing nothing to end the contamination because too often the people who are supposed to deal with the problem used to work for or are being paid by the companies causing the problem.