SALEM - Anti-pesticide activists brought more than complaints to a state Board of Forestry meeting on Friday afternoon. The Triangle Lake residents, who for years have been lobbying and agitating against aerial sprays of herbicides on the timbered slopes around their homes, came with data that showed two herbicides in the urine of 21 community members, including children.
The samples were tested by Dana Barr, a research professor at Emory University's Environmental and Occupational Health Department. Barr, a former researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is considered an expert in assessing human exposure to a variety of toxic compounds. She found two powerful weed killers, 2,4-D and atrazine, in the urine of all 21 residents who submitted samples to her lab earlier this year.
Speaking by phone from her Atlanta office, Barr told the Board of Forestry that populationwide studies have shown that most of us have detectable levels of some pesticides in our bodies, but 2,4-D and atrazine are found in just 2 to 4 percent of the population. Barr found both chemicals in all of the 21 Triangle Lake residents she tested. They went to a doctor's office to give their samples and the doctor forwarded the samples to Barr's lab. Samples were taken during the winter before spring spraying began, and some residents submitted a second sample after helicopter sprays occurred near their homes. The second samples showed an increased amount of the herbicides, she said.