“As crude a weapon as the cave man’s club, the chemical barrage has been hurled against the fabric of life” ~ Rachel Carson
Oh, that life were but filled with happiness and joy. Oregon’s Constitution states the ‘natural rights inherent in people’ ~ ‘instituted for their peace, safety and happiness’. Yet, we have discovered challenges to those tenets, practices not well known, repeatedly used within our neighborhoods and communities that are anything but related to our peace, or our safety, and certainly not our happiness.
Imagine 800,000 acres of our forests sprayed with toxic herbicide poisons. That was the case in Oregon back in 2005 alone. According to the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Use Reporting System, nearly 20 million pounds of pesticides were used in our state in 2008. The first and last year for reporting this information. Billions of pounds of toxic chemicals are used annually throughout this country. The numbers are indeed staggering. Here in Oregon many of these toxic poisons are routinely sprayed within our forests, on our highways, our food, within our neighborhoods, communities, and throughout our state, repeatedly, each and every year.
Unfortunately, many citizens are not aware of these applications. Certainly not to the extent these chemicals are used, nor the potential risks they pose to the Health of our air, water, food, land, bodies or future. Any more than citizens are made aware of the specifics of the chemicals themselves. For instance, one of Oregon’s commonly used chemicals is Atrazine. Atrazine was found to be so harmful it was banned from use in the European Union in 2003. (specifically, it continues to be denied regulatory approval for use) Yet, this same toxin continues to be heavily used throughout Oregon, on our food, in our forests and within our neighborhoods. Nor is it common knowledge that the chemical 2,4-D, a constituent of Agent Orange, continues to be used also in neighborhoods and even around our children’s schools. These two chemicals are not only routinely sprayed throughout our state, one or both have invaded the bodies of 48 Oregonians, including children. (see Triangle Lake/Hwy 36 Chemical Exposure Investigation). It was not until January of last year that we ourselves became aware of the information now available on these pages.
A stark reality is that along with the concerns of the chemicals themselves, the lack of information regarding their make-up and the fact apx. 99.9 % of them are never tested, it is extremely difficult to find out the needed information relevant to pesticide use itself in Oregon. For instance, Oregon began compiling a pesticide use program called PURS (Pesticide Use Reporting System) mentioned above back in 2007. One year later, the program was cancelled. “Due to state budget constraints, PURS is not available. Pesticide users cannot file reports of pesticide use into PURS. Reports previously filed into PURS are not available to the pesticide users who filed those reports. The 2009 Oregon Legislature amended the PURS statutes. Among those amendments was that no pesticide user is required to report pesticide use information into PURS when PURS is not available. In addition, Oregon Administration Rules (OAR) states that no enforcement action shall be taken for failure to report pesticide use “… for any calendar year in which the Department does not provide a fully effective means for pesticide users to report pesticide use.” http://www.oregon.gov/ODA/PEST/purs_index.shtml
There is indication that these records are available elsewhere, yet our experience, in particular relative to the investigation in Triangle Lake, is that this does not hold true. It has been both difficult, and in some cases impossible, to get access to any records. It is also important to note the chemical ‘applicators’ are only required to keep these reports for three years. Priceless!
Oregonians also live in a state that provides no advanced warnings when it comes to toxic chemical use. There is currently nothing in place that even requires Oregon, nor it’s many agencies designed to “protect” our water, air, land, food and citizens to offer advanced warning of scheduled toxic chemical applications. At least nothing of any significance. The only current source of information pertains to forestry practices, through ODF (Oregon Dept. of Forestry) Notifications. (See Notifications/Subscriptions) However, this information is without specifics, no specific chemicals to be used, and more importantly, when they will be. Even after the fact, this information is not in the public domain, even for those with health issues or concerns. We also have to pay to subscribe to this lack of information. Thus aside from a “Warning” sign hopefully in our schools or parks when sprayed, we are left in the dark with no protections in place, whether choosing or needing to avoid toxic chemicals due to health issues. Let alone, anyone simply not wanting to potentially be exposed. There are zero protections for the citizens of this state.
To quote Rachel Carson “It is ironic to think that man might determine his own future by something so seemingly trivial as the choice of an insect spray”. Now 50 years after she brought us Silent Spring and the dangers of these poisons, and almost 30 years after Carol Van Strum revealed the herbicide nightmares of those living in Oregon’s rural countryside back in the 70′s and 80′s, one could say it is beyond ironic we are still living in such a toxic environment. Or one could say it is rather insidious, perhaps just insane, or BOTH.
From our forests to our agriculture, within our schools, parks, and backyards, to the roads we travel, toxic poisons continue to inundate our lives. Their use not only prevalent, but growing. This could not be more obvious than in Oregon, if only taking into consideration the road and highway sprays each year for weed control, the spraying of our agriculture, or the spraying of these toxins by the timber industry after they clear-cut, to ‘protect’ their conifer tree farms. Oregonians are being exposed to toxic poisons each and every year. The killing of weeds and bugs seeming to warrant far more concern than the lives of the very people who populate these same landscapes.
There are serious questions and concerns:
Are we now living within the realm of the warnings and nightmare revealed to us by Rachel and Carol so long ago, here in the Illinois Valley, Triangle Lake and throughout Oregon? Is it possible or we dare say probable there are serious cumulative effects to these poisons? Is it possible, again probable, there are health risks associated as well with their unknown factors, such as excipients used so the chemicals ‘stick’, but kept secret from us? What of the additives themselves? Is it possible and probable there are risks due to the magnified (synergistic) effects of these chemicals in combination, as is the case of their use, with one chemical followed by another and another? Last, but certainly not least, should not our community and certainly our state take seriously the concerns raised at this juncture, with the known risks, readily available science and known associations of these toxic poisons to health issues, especially in light of so many citizens now contaminated? What is perplexing is that Oregon touts HEALTH, yet continues to support, promote and protect these activities. We contend this IS a health issue for us as well as for our state. The reality is, it certainly is a Human Rights issue.
Our concerns relate to all of the above, but are significantly based on the fact these chemicals are now invading the bodies of fellow citizens, as well as our fish bearing streams. We have researched the risks and the multitude of health factors relative to these toxins. The HEALTH of the very air we breathe, along with our water, fish habitats, animal habitats, our bats, bees, forests, food, our elderly, and our CHILDREN are ALL being threatened in one way or another and in jeopardy based on our research. We have determined from the readily available science, case studies and long history of these poisons, as well as serious issues relative to the state’s investigation itself, that ALL of our questions are more than valid. The continued use of such toxic poisons is beyond alarming. Hence, Precious Dirt.
For those who continue to say we need more science, more studies, more evidence as to the dangers these toxic chemicals pose, that science IS out there and has been for years. There are more and more studies proving the dangers of these toxins to our future surfacing on a regular basis. In particular the science now speaking of the dangers of small doses and chronic exposures. (see the many articles under Pesticides) It is easy to overlook two simple facts, often overlooked in our opinion: Air has NO boundaries, and water flows downhill. The extent to which these poisons are dispersed, eventually revolatilizing into the atmosphere, factoring in the weather shifts, and/or run off from muddied slopes flowing downhill with the rains, clogging creeks and streams on it’s way to the rivers and ultimately the sea. ALL scenarios offering a serious challenge for not just the Health of our Air and Water, but for our entire chain of Life itself. Ours included.
We must note: Precious Dirt does not for a minute claim to be an expert nor hold degrees in any of the fields relative to this subject matter. Again, the science is prevalent and readily available, as is the history on this topic. We invite and encourage all who read these pages to please not simply accept or rely upon what we offer. We do our utmost to post only accurate and truthful information, but do have a bias, as we are sharing our experiences, our history, our lives. We prefer and recommend you do your own research, homework and study of these issues. The truth IS out there, for all who seek. We simply ask you pursue this important information, for in one way or another toxic chemical poisons will affect us ALL, sooner or later.
We advocate for the Peace, Safety and Happiness of all who live in Oregon, as is written in our Constitution. Including our inherent Right to Health. This includes our Right to a Healthy Environment, Clean Air, Clean Water, Clean Forests, Clean Schools, Clean Communities, and certainly our Right to Healthy Lives.
Note: ODF reports indicate 125,000 acres of private forest will be aerially sprayed with toxic herbicides this year alone (2012), by the timber industry.
It bears repeating: the air we breathe and share has NO BOUNDARIES.
“It’s always so easy to assume that someone else is taking care of things. People say, we wouldn’t be allowed to use pesticides if they were dangerous. It just isn’t so. Trusting so-called authority is not enough. A sense of personal responsibility is what we desperately need.” — Rachel Carson “The Gentle Storm Center,” Life Magazine, Oct. 12, 1962
***PBS tells our story: Majestic Forests in Oregon at Risk from Timber Industry and Chemical Spraying http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/environment/july-dec12/forests_09-12.html?print
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
~ Margaret Mead Facebook: Latest news, reports, science, campaigns, some health related topics, along with some fun. https://www.facebook.com/preciousdirt
“We should all be concerned about the future, because we will have to spend the rest of our lives there.” ~ C. F. Kettering
Please NOTE: After almost three years of working within the ‘system’, what we are now calling the box, defined by the current structures of laws and regulations that enable these toxic practices to continue, while affording citizens zero rights to defend ourselves, we discovered CELDF. The Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund. See www.CELDF.org This organization is now working within Oregon, helping communities throughout our state draft local ordinances, putting their issues before the voters in their respective communities. In Benton and Lane counties seeking the right to say NO to GMOs. In Josephine County seeking the right to say NO to pesticides.Precious Dirt will remain focused on awareness and the educational process of this issue; offering guest speakers, meetings and/or workshops to help bring understanding of the issues we face. A new organization was created called the Freedom from Pesticides Alliance. This local group of volunteers has drafted an initiative to ban pesticides in Josephine County. They soon will be getting approval to begin gathering signatures to get their initiative on next years ballot, so the people can determine what happens within our communities and county. Their initiative is the Freedom from Pesticides Bill of Rights.
Visit their website and see their initiative @ www.freedomfrompesticidesalliance.org/