Our new report assesses the environmental impact of pesticides on five state highways

A new report, released in late August, provides Oregonians with an assessment of the environmental impact of pesticides on five state highways.

Eugene, OR, August 30, 2011: A new environmental health report for pesticide use on state highways in Lane County uses mathematical formulas to assess the overall and average health impacts of chemicals used to control weeds. The data-driven assessment indicates a relationship between pesticide uses on state highways and human health. The report, prepared by Oregon Toxics Alliance, measures and compares pesticide application trends across Highways 36, 58, 126-W, 126-E and OR 569 (the Randy Papé Beltway) and provides recommendations to the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) to reduce risks to people and the environment.

OTA is currently working together with ODOT to manage parts of Highway 36 without the use of pesticides. The Alliance also works with communities throughout the state to find practical ways to reduce pesticides.

According to the report, the greatest negative environmental health impact from pesticide use occurs on the Randy Papé Beltway (also called OR 569 or Beltline Highway), a commuter route serving heavily populated sections of the Eugene metro area.

The report was written in response to Oregonians’ concerns about health risks from pesticide drift and run-off,” says Arkin. “We get complaints from people who get sick from breathing in pesticide vapors from the practice of using pesticides to kill weeds along the edges of highways.

This is the first prospective study that shows data-driven input useful for the development of balanced, rational policies that reduce the risks of pesticide use while providing practical solutions along with environmental protection strategies. The report also references a Human Rights Assessment for pesticides on public highways that was commissioned by the Alliance.

View a copy of the report

Register Guard’s editorial on Measuring sprays’ effects: Scoring herbicides’ impacts provides useful tool. You can view the actual copy of the scanned newspaper article here. (9/6/2011)


20-Year Celebration of the Williams, OR “No-Spray/Mow-Day” Program

Beyond Toxics got this note from Williams, OR resident and activist, Lisa Horn, on last weekend’s Mow Day (Aug. 6th):

“About 15 Williams, Oregon residents showed up on Mow Day and mowed approximately 20 miles, from dawn to afternoon, using push mower, weed whips, and a riding mower. The higher elevations need another Mow Day or so, but this has completed almost half of the manual weed removal agreement with Josephine County Public Works for 2011. Thank you, volunteers!”

Beyond Toxics sponsors the no-spray project in other counties to support clean water and a healthy environment. Reducing pesticides also helps protect Oregon’s wildlife, particularly native salmon and trout . Using mowing instead of harsh pesticides to kill weeds also protects the health of all the people living along and driving on rural roads.

A couple of video clips from Mow Day 2011:

Mow Day 2011 in Williams, Oregon – Mowing Williams roadside, elder protecting soil and water, for the next generations, thank you Al! Behind the wheel of the truck trailing behind the mower was a driver who wanted to support Al’s effort.

Mow Day 2011 in Williams, Oregon – Mow Day volunteer Jeb C. using push mower on Williams roadside, to keep the county spray trucks away from our town. Bicyclists rode behind in solidarity.

Multnomah County promotes No Idling!

Multnomah County’s Office of Sustainability announces it’s association with our Healthy Air Oregon campaign to encourage drivers to turn off their engines while waiting on drawbridges this Summer. Together we are raising awareness about the personal and public health risks of idling and cost savings available to individual drivers and businesses of all kinds by ending the practice of idling while not in the flow of traffic.

Read more about Multnomah County’s “Idling Gets You Nowhere” campaign.

The Spirit of Portland is a private cruise company that has various cruises with different sized boats people can take to go site-seeing on the Willamette River. The Portland Spirit is their largest yacht and the route goes under the Hawthorne Bridge, which is a major car drawbridge connecting downtown Portland with the SE side. Because the Willamette River water level has not gone down like it normally does over the summer, Spirit of Portland has had to schedule bridge lifts for the Hawthorne Bridge to be able to pass underneath.  It passes through the bridge 3 times a day, which stops traffic and causes people to idle their cars for at least a mile in each direction. Multnomah County’s Office of Sustainability saw this as a perfect opportunity to remind drivers of the health and environmental risks of idling and the potential cost savings of turning off their engines while they wait. This Summer Beyond Toxics is partnering with the educational effort to raise the issue in the public’s eye.

Find out how you can become an endorser of our Healthy Air Oregon campaign.


Hawthorne Bridge Outreach # 2
7/27/11 – 2:30 pm – 3:15 pm
Where: Hawthorne Bridge

Hawthorne Bridge Outreach # 3
7/29/11 – 2:30 pm – 3:15 pm
Where: Hawthorne Bridge

ALSO: Multnomah County adopts Vehicle Idling Reduction Policy (PDF file)
Includes this important stipulation:
“Effective immediately, Multnomah County employees shall reduce idling time to no more than twenty seconds in al County Fleet vehicles…”