On Tuesday evening, April 5, the Oregon Health Authority's Environmental Health Assessment Program hosted an online public community meeting to discuss the Public Health Assessment Draft Report for a Brooklyn neighborhood business, Bullseye Glass.
The meeting, scheduled to begin at 6 p.m., was delayed for 25 minutes due to technical issues. Then, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Environmental Public Health Section Manager Gabriela Goldfarb served as a facilitator for the meeting, which had 35 attendees on the ZOOM platform. First was a presentation of the report summary, followed by question-and-answer period.
"You have been waiting for a long time to get to this stage in the public health process; it took longer than it should have," Goldfarb admitted to the attendees.
OHA Program Manager Julie Sifuentes then commented on "how stressful this has been for so many neighbors, leaving them feeling unsafe [when] breathing the air at home in and in their neighborhood." She added that the wish for herself and OHA coworkers was to help "bring closure" to those who live and work in the Brooklyn neighborhood.
Sifuentes recalled how the investigation began in 2011, and continued through 2016 "when media made it more widely known".
If you'd like to read the Bullseye Glass Public Health Assessment report for yourself, you can download it at this web address â€“ bit.ly/3EgYhzh
Next, the report's author, OHA Public Health Toxicologist David Farrer thanked those who served on a study committee from May of 2016 until the present, attending a total of eight meetings.
Farrer then stepped through the "Bullseye Glass Company Public Health Assessment Summary Factsheet", page by page, beginning with pointing out the location of the manufacturer, and its proximity to parks and schools.
According to the Summary Factsheet:
· There is not enough information about conditions before Bullseyes emissions were reduced
· (February 2016) answering community questions of whether long-term past exposure to the air around Bullseye Glass could harm or might have harmed peoples health
· Levels of metals measured in the air around Bullseye Glass in October 2015 were NOT high enough to harm the health of people who only breathed it during that one month
· Had emissions from Bullseye Glass not been reduced and levels of metals measured in October 2015 been allowed to persist, long-term exposure to that air might have harmed the health of people breathing it
· Based on the October 2015 air monitoring data, the contaminants that posed the greatest risk around Bullseye Glass were cadmium and arsenic
· Exposure to soil, garden produce, and air, since February 2016, around Bullseye Glass will NOT harm health
· Interventions to reduce emissions from Bullseye Glass reduced current and future cancer risk over 50 times, and non-cancer risk over 100 times
· Urine tests produced uncertain results. Results of urine cadmium tests reported to OHA have too many uncertainties and scientific limitations to draw any health conclusion in this assessment
· No elevated rates of key cancers are associated with exposure to Bullseye-related metals
· OHA found that lung and bladder cancer rates in the three census tracts around Bullseye Glass, from 1999-2013, were not higher than expected
· Eating homegrown produce is OK. Produce harvested around Bullseye Glass is unlikely to harm the health of adults or children
· No further action is needed to reduce exposure to emissions from Bullseye Glass
During the Q&A, John Karabaic, who identified himself with the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association asked about sensors.
"We had an air quality sensor installed in our public garden at Southeast Franklin [Street] and McLaughlin [Boulevard], which I didn't see on your sensor map. Is it because it was part of a different sensing effort, or is it something that was left out of [the report]? Karabaic asked.
Farrer responded, "I am aware of those data. I don't know if DEQ is ready to talk about them. From what I have seen and was described by lab folks, the levels of metals measured at those monitors are similar to what we found in the 2016 monitoring."
Another question put by an attendee was, "Did Bullseye know they are being monitored; and, had there been any change of operations or might they have changes to operations if they were aware of that?"
Attendee Jim Jones, President of Bullseye Glass replied, "We were notified by DEQ that the monitor in October 2015 was going to be installed. And, no, we didn't change our operations at that time."
Others questioned the methodology behind the study, and how the long-term health risk projections were established.
After the meeting, we asked what Bullseye Glass's President, Jim Jones, and the company's owners thought of the report.
"OHA's Public Health Assessment verifies that operations at Bullseye Glass do not pose a public health concern, and confirms that the emissions control systems installed in 2016 are effective," he replied. "We agree with OHA that air quality data collected near Bullseye Glass in 2015 was flawed and inadequate to evaluate potential health risks.
"We continue to be responsive to any concerns neighbors or DEQ might have. Ongoing monitoring confirms that our operations remain safe."
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