Environment
11:25 am
Mon November 21, 2011

Rural Oregon Residents Await Pesticide Exposure Investigation Results

Residents who live on Highway 36 west of Eugene are waiting for the results of a Pesticide Exposure Investigation by the state of Oregon. They believe herbicide spraying by the timber industry is causing health issues in their communities.

For years, residents near Blachly and Triangle Lake have complained of pesticide drift from clear-cut sprays. But it wasn’t until last spring that they caught the attention of the state. In independent biological testing, more than 30 people from the area tested positive for the common timber industry herbicides Atrazine and 2,4,D.

This summer, the State of Oregon and two federal agencies launched their own Exposure Investigation. They took biological and environmental samples from 66 people living in the area. Those results are due to be released to the test subjects in early December. Eron King and her family were part of both tests.

“I’m anxious to find out because I’m assuming they’re going to be positive, because they were already positive. And I see that as confirmation basically. Hopefully people take us more seriously and Dr. Barr more seriously and the fact that we didn’t try to spike anything. We didn’t try to set anything up. This is true. This is real. We’re just trying to get the truth out there.”

At a meeting Friday in Blachly, many residents expressed concern about the environmental testing aspect, because the samples are being processed at a lab associated with the Oregon Department of Agriculture. A state official told KLCC he is confident in the work of that lab, but still local trust in the ODA is exceedingly low.

The Exposure Investigation will continue into next year, with at least one more round of biological testing scheduled.