Featured Article: The Poison Papers

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Post By: Molly Esselstrom, Upstream Research™ Marketing Manager

100,000 papers all pointing to the same injustice: the chemical industry is poisoning people. This particular story features Carol Van Strum, an accidental environmental advocate who lives in rural Oregon and has been fighting an uphill battle against big chemicals for 40 years.

The article (accessible below) follows Van Strum’s story, beginning with her initial discovery in 1974 that the Forest Service was spraying the land around her home with an herbicide called 2,4,5 -T.


“As in Vietnam, the chemicals hurt people and animals in Oregon, as well as the plants that were their target. Immediately after they were sprayed, Van Strum’s children developed nosebleeds, bloody diarrhea, and headaches, and many of their neighbors fell sick, too. Several women who lived in the area had miscarriages shortly after incidents of spraying. Locals described finding animals that had died or had bizarre deformities — ducks with backward-facing feet, birds with misshapen beaks, and blinded elk; cats and dogs that had been exposed began bleeding from their eyes and ears. At a community meeting, residents decided to write to the Forest Service detailing the effects of the spraying they had witnessed.
“We thought that if they knew what had happened to us, they wouldn’t do it anymore,” Van Strum said recently, before erupting into one of the many bursts of laughter that punctuate her conversation. We were sitting not far from the river where her children played more than 40 years ago, and her property remained much as it was back when the Forest Service first sprayed them with the herbicide. A mountain covered with alder and maple trees rose up across from her home, just as it did then, and the same monkey puzzle tree that was there when she moved in still shaded her dirt driveway.”

The documents are a result of Van Strum’s extensive research and dedication to fighting this cause and are now being compiled through a project called the Poison Papers, which gives everyone access to Van Strum’s life work – in the hopes of preventing use of toxic chemicals in future.


Read the full article here.

Access the Poison Papers here.

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