One year ago, on October 16, 2013, people living near the town of Cedar Valley in Curry County could not have known that a helicopter pilot and a forestry consultant would carry out an aerial herbicide application above their homes. The pilot loaded his tanks with a concoction of 2,4D and triclopyr, two potent herbicides with a record of human health risks, and mixed them with petroleum oil. He flew four round trips over a residential area while carrying this chemical soup. As many as 45 residents became mysteriously ill after smelling chemicals fumes and feeling chemicals drop onto their faces.
I’m writing this from the inner sanctum of the State Capitol building, where in only three days, Beyond Toxics supporters will join me talk with elected leaders to discuss better pest management policy, more tracking and accountability and, as a result, pesticide reduction.
What’s our goal? A healthier world. How are we going to do it? Show up, speak up and work for change.
I wish all of you reading this blog here were sitting with me as I write. Together we would mourn this week’s release of the report, Exposure Investigation: Biological Monitoring for Exposure to Herbicides in the Highway 36 Corridor. The report contains vague statistics about ways the government can “normalize” pesticide detections in our bodies.
A nearby neighbor who has a house on the shores of Triangle Lake heard the loudspeaker from the Chemical Witness Rally, and wandered over to see what was going on. What she found was an open microphone at the lakeshore park, a place and time for people to speak to their personal experience about being harmed by pesticides.
As a result of an Register-Guard guest editorial last month, I sparked a firestorm of controversy proposing something simple and obvious: we should speak up if our government tries to convince the public not to worry about finding dangerous pesticides in the bodies of children who live in rural Oregon.