“They confirmed that we were indeed unwillingly exposed to pesticides,” says Day Owen of Triangle Lake. The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) released the Public Health Assessment Report on the Highway 36 Exposure Investigation on May 9. The report is open for public comment until July 9 and the state is hosting a meeting on the issue on May 28.
The interim report says the investigation asks, among other questions, “Are residents in the Highway 36 Corridor being exposed to pesticides from local application practices, and if so, to what pesticides?” and it says that “This investigation found evidence that residents of the investigation area were exposed to 2,4-D and atrazine in the spring of 2011, and 2,4-D in the fall of 2011.”
OHA could not determine if participants were exposed to pesticides other than 2,4-D and atrazine, the report summary says, “because we could not locate a laboratory that had the ability to test for other chemicals in urine.”
Those living in the Hwy. 36 corridor around Triangle Lake have long called for an investigation into the effects of herbicides and pesticides sprayed onto the private timberlands around them, contending the sprays drift on their land, get into their water and make them sick. Only after the residents undertook their own investigation and proved the chemicals were in their urine did the state begin an investigation.
But that too has been frustrating with OHA’s lacking capacity to monitor pesticides in the air as well as calling off the spring sampling in 2012 because, as Owen says, the timber companies were “dodging the bullet” by not spraying the testable atrazine or 2,4-D in the Triangle Lake region.
He adds that he is pleased that the Environmental Protection Agency and received a grant for air samplers that test for a wide variety of pesticides.
The study says that in the sampling of people exposed to pesticides in spring 2011, “atrazine levels in some residents’ urine were statistically higher after aerial atrazine applications than before applications.”
For more info on the 6:30 pm May 28 meeting at the Triangle Lake Grange, and for the full report and where to make public comments, go to http://wkly.ws/1he.