The beginning.

It’s hard to know where to even start.  Forgive me, if at time this post rambles.  My head swims with too much information and data these days. It’s hard to process that, and feelings, and still keep things in check.  When you wake up one morning, things are normal, you go about your day, then come home to news that your child has been exposed to heavy metal air pollutants, your head comes as close to exploding as I think it can.

I guess I should back up a little. This blog was started in 2008. My life was very different. I wrote about all sorts of things. Crafts, food, parties, infertility, running, my love of Portland, etc.  It evolved into many things over the years, and then I stopped writing. Sometimes your brain goes silent. Those posts are all still here, archived, but hidden for now, as I want to focus on life now.  I won’t erase them, they may come back even, but for now I need to talk about what’s happening right now. Like I really need to talk. I don’t want to burden my Facebook timeline with these thoughts because I know some will tire of it, and stop listening. So I want to post here, where people can choose to read or not. This blog was my outlet for many things, now I will use it to spill my guts about what’s going on.

“What’s going on?” you might ask.  Well lots.

February 2nd, 2016 is a day that I’ll likely never forget. It’s the day our childcare provider informed us that DEQ had been conducting air pollutant tests in the parking lot adjacent to the facility. This facility is also around the corner from my home.
Those tests revealed higher than normal levels for arsenic and cadmium.  They urged calm as they further assessed. I don’t know about you but when someone urges me to remain calm I often do the exact opposite. So I started reading, and researching. DEQ posted a press release, then took it down, then reposted a smaller one with less information. Right from the start things seemed off.   We went to a meeting facilitated by CCLC (our childcare center) where DEQ, Oregon Health Authority (OHA), and corporate officers from CCLC came to speak with us. We left that meeting with more questions than answers.  DEQ and OHA were what I would call evasive, or perhaps poorly prepared to answer hard questions.

When parents are afraid, they will ask hard questions. Mama Bear activates the instant my child is at risk whether that be from a bump falling off the slide, or arsenic being inhaled into her lungs. My Mama Bear was off the charts, but I tried to remain calm. That's what they told me to do! It’s hard to do that when you learn that DEQ has known about these harmful pollutants for years and failed to follow up on what was causing them, and where, geographically it was coming from. With ten seconds I was able to use a search engine to find who uses those metals. It was fairly easy to put it together.  So why did no one do anything? Why can a company do this? How could they not have known? How bad is it? How often does it happen?

So many questions.

But it boils down to this. It’s legal. What that company did, and is likely still doing with other toxic elements, is legal. 

DEQ can’t do anything. The company is working within the limits of its permit.  

The company has blatantly abused its neighbors trust.

I will always wonder.  Even if we are not sick now, I will always wonder. Our bodies are ticking time bombs.  There is no MacGyver to swoop in with a paper clip and some chewing gum to fix this. This is more like a MacGruber situation.  Google that if you need to.  Comic relief…kind of.

As I write subsequent posts I will try to include data and cite references where needed.  I’m not a professional though, so I might screw that up sometimes.  You may also see me make what seem like really inappropriate jokes. That’s how I deal sometimes. If I can’t laugh I might cry. I cry enough so I think I’ll try to laugh if/when I can.  Please don’t take offense. Despite my jokes, I take this very seriously.  Frankly, I will probably write mostly about how this feels emotionally, with a tiny side of science and a dash of legal. Because emotions are what are impacting me the greatest at this moment.  I mean, it all impacts me, but the emotions are hard to grapple with.  Really hard.  And honestly there are some freaking brilliant, dedicated neighbors, who have taken this on. My neighborhood is in very capable hands.  Like rock star hands.  I don’t know that I’m in a place to offer them anything except appreciation. They are that good!

Most importantly, thank you for reading this. If people listen and learn then maybe another community won’t have to deal with crap like this. Maybe other children won’t be exposed to cancer causing heavy metals.  Maybe the teachers who spend hours caring for them won’t have to worry about their own health. Maybe your neighbors will never wonder if the kale they grew in their organic gardens will actually kill them someday. Maybe. 

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