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State calls for more tests in 11 homes with fumes.

Byline: Diane Dietz The Register-Guard

The state Public Health Division has identified 11 homes in Eugene's Trainsong neighborhood that may - or may not - be polluted by unhealthy levels of solvent fumes, according to a report released Tuesday.

Although the most recent tests of the air in homes show safe levels of solvents, earlier tests found an elevated cancer risk for people living in the homes.

"We don't know if those lower levels are stable. That's why I was unwilling to say `no apparent health hazard,'?" said Jae Douglas, a health division epidemiologist who wrote the report.

Instead, Douglas termed the cancer risk "indeterminate" and called for further testing at the 11 homes.

Experts from the health division and the state Department of Environmental Quality will present their findings and answer questions at a meeting Thursday in the Trainsong neighborhood.

The pollution plume underneath a large swath of the Trainsong and River Road neighborhoods in west Eugene came from decades of solvent spills at the current location of the Union Pacific rail yard.

The company is conducting a clean-up at the yard under a voluntary agreement it signed with the Department of Environmental Quality.

Other Public Health Division findings:

River Road residents get drinking water from the municipal supply, rather than from wells on their property.

Use of the mildly polluted water from private wells to water gardens and hose off outside surfaces poses no apparent public health hazard to adults or children.

Water from the municipal water supply should be used to fill backyard wading pools for small children and for drinking water for animals.

Environmental officials should consider creating a mechanism to inform future homeowners and/or residents of the need to limit use of water from private wells to watering gardens and hosing off outside surfaces.

Environmental officials should continue studies in the Trainsong and River Road neighborhoods to further evaluate the railroad groundwater contamination.
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Title Annotation:City/Region; Despite lower levels of the pollutants, the cancer risk is deemed "indeterminate"
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Oct 31, 2007
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