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DEQ to sample soil at Trainsong Park in Eugene

Feb. 3, 2022

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) plans to collect soil samples at Trainsong Park to better understand the levels of dioxins at the city park in west Eugene.

Preliminary assessments and data collection are being conducted and DEQ expects soil sample collection to be completed by the end of February. The department will then send the samples to an out-of-state lab for analysis. The time needed to receive results may vary, depending on the lab’s workload from other projects, but typically takes a few months.

The priority of DEQ’s investigation is to better understand the level of dioxins in the soil at the park. Depending on the results of the sampling, the next phase of the investigation may or may not include soil sampling at properties near the park.

Dioxins are a class of toxic chemicals produced by industrial and natural sources. Depending on the level of exposure, dioxins can increase the risk of cancer and the risk of other health effects.

The City of Eugene Parks and Open Spaces division temporarily closed Trainsong Park on Jan. 13 out of an abundance of caution until further testing and evaluation have been completed. The closure came after the unexpected identification of dioxins in the soil. The source of the dioxins is unknown. DEQ oversaw soil sampling at the park in fall 2021 and the results became available in January. The samples were taken as background data for the investigation and cleanup of the J.H. Baxter & Co. facility, more than a half mile away, along Roosevelt Boulevard.

The City’s top priority is ensuring the safety of community members.

According to the Oregon Health Authority, people are exposed to soil in parks less often than they are exposed to soil from their own yards, because they typically spend more time at home than they do in a park. OHA guidance says that a family with young children would have to visit the park four days per week for an entire year before there would be any risk of health effects. Children under six years old would be at greatest risk because they swallow more soil per body weight than older children.

More information will be shared with the community as it becomes available from DEQ. See the DEQ’s Jan. 13, 2022, news release.

Questions regarding dioxins:

Contact Department of Environmental Quality for more information about soil testing.
Community members with concerns about possible health effects of dioxins can email the state’s Environmental Health Assessment Program: ehap.info@dhsoha.state.or.us
Community members with specific concerns about the health of a child can contact the Northwest Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit. This unit includes board certified pediatricians and pediatric nurses who also have training in clinical toxicology.

Media contacts:

Dylan Darling, DEQ Western Region Public Affairs Specialist, 541-600-6119 dylan.darling@deq.oregon.gov

Cambra Ward Jacobson, Acting Communications Director, 541-682-5587, cward@eugene-or.gov

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