“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, last year and only year for reporting this information, due to budget cuts. The reality is Billions of pounds of toxic chemicals are used annually throughout this country. The numbers are indeed staggering. Here in Oregon multiple chemical cocktails of poison are routinely sprayed within our forests, on our roads and highways, on 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, soil, food, bodies and 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 poison continues to be heavily used throughout Oregon, on our food, in our forests and within our neighborhoods and communities. Nor is it common knowledge that the chemical 2,4-D, a constituent of Agent Orange, continues to be used within neighborhoods and 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 2011 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 or the fact the majority of them are never tested, follows the fact it is extremely difficult to find out the needed information relevant to pesticide use itself, especially 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, in 2008 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 in our experience, in particular relative to the investigation in Triangle Lake, this does not hold true. The latest chemical ‘investigation’ in Cedar Valley speaks directly of this issue.* It has been both difficult or 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” the health of our air, water, soil, food and citizens, to offer advanced warning of scheduled toxic chemical applications. Certainly nothing of any significance. The only current source of information pertains to forestry practices used by the timber industry through ODF (Oregon Dept. of Forestry) ‘Notifications’. (See Notifications/Subscriptions) However, this ‘Notification’ is without specifics of any kind, other than location. Noting multiple chemicals that ‘may be used’, but more importantly not when they will be sprayed. Even after the fact, this information is not in the public domain, a real concern for those with health issues. We also ironically are forced 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 from pesticides.
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 30 years after Carol Van Strum revealed the herbicide nightmare of those living in Oregon’s rural countryside in the 70′s and 80′s, faced with Agent Orange and Dioxin, 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 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 poisons 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, repeatedly. 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 Carson and Van Strum so long ago here in the Illinois Valley, Triangle Lake, Cedar Valley 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 with the unknown factors of these poisons, such as the excipients, used to make the chemicals ‘stick’, or more importantly their ‘inert ingredients’, ALL kept secret from us? What of the additives themselves? Is it possible rather probable there are risks due to the magnified (synergistic) effects of these chemicals in combinations, as is the case of their use, with one chemical followed by another and another? Or worse yet, the fact these chemicals are now being combined into cocktails the likes of which have NEVER been tested. Last, but certainly not least, should not our community and certainly our state take seriously the concerns raised at this juncture with simply 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 while continuing to support, promote and protect toxic activities and practices. In fact not protecting citizens or their communities, instead protecting the corporations and state entities themselves, all spraying highly toxic poisons where we live, breathe, drink the water, tend our gardens and raise our families. We contend this is a human rights issue. Our right to health, not only for ourselves but the health of our communities, including of our right to healthy air, water, soil and neighborhoods. Our simple basic right to be say no to toxic poisons, no longer possible under Oregon’s current pesticide practice paradigm.
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, fish bearing streams, and known animals in Cedar Valley. We have researched the risks and the multitude of health factors related to these poisons. The health of the air we breathe, our water resources, fish habitats, animal habitats, our bats, bees, forests, food, our elderly, and our CHILDREN, life itself, is being threatened with chemical trespass in one way or another. We have determined from the readily available science, case studies and long history of these poisons in our state, as well as serious issues relative to the state’s “investigation” (*s), or rather lack of, that ALL of our questions as well as our concerns are more than valid.
The continued use of such toxic poisons in a state that should know better 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 not only readily available, it has been for years. More and more however new science and new studies are proving the dangers of these toxic chemicals to the health of our air, water, soil and bodies. In particular science that is continuing to address the dangers of small and/or chronic exposures. (see the many articles under Pesticides)
It is too easy to overlook two simple facts in our opinion: Air and water have no boundaries. The extent to which these poisons are dispersed allow them to often revolatilize into the atmosphere. When factoring in weather shifts, sun and rain this is one serious issue. There is also the issue of run-off after rain, whether creating muddied slopes full of poisons flowing downhill, or from roadside spraying flowing into our creeks and streams on it’s way to our rivers and ultimately the ocean. Far too many of these chemicals are capable of trespass. There is also the data indicating helicopters have a minimum two mile drift factor, assuming not sprayed during wind, which is sadly often the case. The above factors alone confirm that often simple common sense is all one needs to know there are potential/probably and proven risks with these practices. Toxic scenarios that offer a serious challenge not just for the health of our air and water but for the entire chain of Life itself, including our own.
We also must note: Precious Dirt does not claim to be experts nor do we 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 these topics. We invite and encourage all who read these pages not to simply accept or rely upon what we offer. We do our utmost to post only accurate and truthful information, but we do have a bias in that we live within this toxic realm. We are sharing our research, experience, history, and lives. We prefer and recommend however, those reading these pages do their own research, homework and study of these issues. The truth is available for all who seek. We simply ask you pursue this important information for toxic chemical poisons are now everywhere.
We are simply advocating for the Peace, Safety and Happiness of all who live in Oregon, as is written in Article I, Section I of our state constitution. We advocate for our inherent Right to Health. Our Right to a healthy environment, which encompasses healthy air, healthy water, healthy forests, healthy schools, healthy communities, and certainly healthy bodies, all of which is connected.
“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, health related topics, sometimes 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
* (s) —Since this site was first created in 2011 and 18 months after asking Governor Kitzhaber for a Moratorium to stop the timber spray practices, allowing the Triangle Lake ‘investigation’ to actually investigate how citizens ended up with timber chemicals in their urine, we are saddened to report yet another timber spray incident occurred October 2013 in Curry County Oregon. Dozens of unsuspecting citizens were exposed to yet another list of toxic poisons, when a helicopter spraying timber clear-cuts went amuck. Unlike the Triangle Lake investigation, on hiatus since March of 2012, this investigation took two weeks to ‘begin’, and chose to test but a few plants in the spray area, knowing full well this incident left many citizens as well as animals sick, many ending up in local hospitals or doctor/vet offices with nausea, headaches, rashes, nose bleeds and far worse.
After three years of working ‘within the system’, what we are now calling the Box, defined by the current structure of laws and regulations enabling 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 CELDF is working to help communities across the country and with several counties within Oregon to draft local ordinances, allowing issues threatening local communities to go before the voters. Citizens throughout Oregon have determined it is time to they , the people, the right to decide what happens within their communities vs. having to live with laws and regulations dictated by Salem that adversely affect our communities. Such as the Oregon Right to Farm and Forest Act and more recently SB 863. Citizens in Benton and Lane Counties are seeking the right to say NO to GMOs. In Josephine County citizens are seeking the right to say NO to pesticides. Precious Dirt will remain focused on awareness and the educational process; offering monthly meetings, videos, and guest speakers to help bring awareness and understanding of the issues we face.
A new organization the Freedom from Pesticides Alliance (FPA) is leading the way in the political realm. www.freedomfrompesticidesalliance.org/
Disclaimer: To be clear; we are not doctors, scientists, or toxicologists. Nor do we claim to be experts in any of the realms discussed on these pages. We are but every day citizens who after discovering these practices were taking place within our community and neighborhoods took it upon ourselves to do the necessary research, investigating and pursuit of the issues related to not just the chemicals but the practices used within Oregon. Including the laws that protect those choosing to use these practices vs. the people and communities on their receiving end. This includes the corporations and governmental entities using, and promoting these practices. We have spoken to scientists such as Tyrone Hayes and Sandra Steingraber, spent years attending meetings with state agencies created to protect us, up to and including the Governor’s office, only to hit one steel wall after another. Is there more to learn? You bet. The science on these topics is ongoing. In fact the recent publication Poison Spring – The Secret History of Pollution and the EPA by E.G. Vallinantos reveals much of what is shared on these pages, ironically up to and including Oregon’s sordid history when it comes to toxic chemicals and ‘investigations’. (Chapter Three) —Highly recommended.
As well as the updated version of A Bitter Fog by Carol Van Strum (July 2014).
What we have learned over the course of the past few years has been not only shocking, to say the least, but is in many ways to this day hard to fathom. In particular, the realization that it is legal for highly toxic chemical cocktails to be sprayed within residential neighborhoods, near schools and often next to homes and families. The other shocking factor being that Oregon citizens have zero rights when it comes to protecting themselves from possible chemical trespass. Zero rights when it comes to protecting our air, water, soil and/or bodies. If this seems hard to fathom, please pursue and research Oregon’s chemical trespass ‘investigations’; beginning with Alsea Oregon in 1978, Triangle Lake 2011, and Curry County 2013. Also review Oregon’s Right to Farm and Forest Act, as well as SB 863.
We wish to make clear; this site is not here to advise, rather to inform. The source data for all that is posted on this page and this site can be found in the pages themselves, from the recommended reading and videos to the long list of articles, reports and scientific case studies.
We do our utmost to post only accurate and legitimate studies and reporting. If we are in error we are the first to ask that error is pointed out to us, and we will quickly correct it.