OHA releases findings of AmeriTies report

Public invited to open house to ask questions about report on air pollutants

The Oregon Health Authority has released the “AmeriTies-West Letter Health Consultation” report, which concluded exposure to outdoor air pollutants near the facility in The Dalles did not pose chronic public health risks for people in the area.

The report, authored by the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), cautions that strong odors could still trigger physical symptoms.

OHA, ATSDR and DEQ open house

Tuesday, March 15 from 6-8 p.m. at Columbia Gorge Community College, 400 E. Scenic Drive, Building 2, third floor auditorium, The Dalles.

“We’ve heard community members’ concerns that health problems they are experiencing may be related to their exposures,” said Susanna Wegner, Ph.D., public health toxicologist in the Environmental Public Health Section at the OHA Public Health Division. “Some health problems may be related to odors. We know that odors can cause immediate, strong physiological responses.”

The most common symptoms in response to environmental odors are headache and nausea, as well as dizziness, watery eyes, stuffy nose, irritated throat, a cough or wheeze, and sleep problems.

ATSDR, in collaboration with OHA, prepared the report at the request of the North Central Public Health District. The district requested help in understanding if exposure to outdoor air pollutants — naphthalene and other polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — posed long-term health risks to residents near the AmeriTies West facility, which treats wooden railroad ties.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) signed a mutual agreement and order with AmeriTies in April 2016 to reduce odors. The order outlined a range of odor-reduction actions the company would make, including using a different wood preservative with less naphthalene. AmeriTies made the preservative change later that year, and DEQ continues to work with AmeriTies to reduce odors.

Earlier this month, DEQ issued air quality monitoring data and an accompanying report, available on the DEQ website at www.oregon.gov/deq/FilterDocs/ameritiesreport2017.pdf.

OHA, ATSDR and DEQ will host an air quality open house. The purpose of the event will be to answer questions from community members about the letter health consultation report and the air data DEQ collected. Community members are welcome to drop in any time during the two-hour open house (see info box at right).

To read a summary of the report and the full report findings and recommendations, visit the OHA AmeriTies webpage at www.healthoregon.org/atsite. Copies of the report can also be reviewed during regular library hours at The Dalles-Wasco County Public Library, 722 Court St., The Dalles.

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