The J.H. Baxter & Co. facility began operation in 1942. The facility treats various wood products such as railroad ties, electrical service poles, and crossarms with water and oil-based chemicals. As the city of Eugene grew around the facility, environmental concerns from their processes also grew.
Community members have historically been concerned about emissions from the J.H. Baxter facility. Most of the community's complaints have been associated with the odors coming from the facility. These odors are largely from creosote and pentachlorophenol, which are used in the facility's wood treatment process.
Beyond the disagreeable chemical smell of the facility, the community has reported difficulty breathing, burning or irritated eyes, headaches, and dizziness. Residents have also expressed concern about cancer and asthma rates in their neighborhoods.
JH Baxter has stopped operating in Jan 2022.
Another great source of background information about the J.H. Baxter project is
EHAP's current activities at J.H. Baxter
In Fall 2020, the Environmental Health Assessment Program (EHAP) joined a technical workgroup with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA), and the City of Eugene to collaboratively investigate contamination from the facility and to evaluate potential health risks to the nearby community.
The Environmental Health Assessment Program (EHAP) has released the JH Baxter Health Consultation (HC) draft and summary fact sheets for public comment. The HC is available for public comment from March 2, 2023 - June 2, 2023.
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) collected surface soil samples from residential yards and other background location in September 2021 and May 2022. Both rounds of sampling showed levels of dioxin in soil, in seven residential yards, above health-based screening concentrations. To address community concerns about the health risks of exposure to dioxins, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) evaluated soil data recommendations in this health consultation report.
Findings of the Health Consultation:
- Soil with dioxin concentrations over 40 parts per trillion (ppt) could harm the health of children under 6 years of age who come in contact with bare soil regularly for a year or longer.
- Eating eggs regularly from backyard chicken that live in yard at residences near Baxter that have dioxin levels above 4.7 ppt could be harmful to health. This health risk is for people of all ages and backgrounds.
- There is no risk of health effects from acute exposures (exposures less than 1 year).
- The increased cancer risk from long-term, or chronic, exposure from JH Baxter is low.
The public comment period for the health consultation will be open until June 2, 2023. OHA will host a public meeting on April 22, 2023, to answer questions about the health consultation findings.
Comments can be emailed to EHAP.firstname.lastname@example.org or mailed to the following address:
Oregon Health Authority - EHAP
800 NE Oregon St., Suite 640
Portland OR, 97232
Note: additional soil sampling done by DEQ/EPA in the Spring season will be updated in the health consultation report accordingly.
Summary Factsheet: English | Spanish
Backyard Chicken Flier: English | Spanish
JH Baxter Health Consultation Report
In December 2020, EHAP joined fellow government agencies and community stakeholders to form the J.H. Baxter Core Team. The Core Team is comprised of representatives from the following groups:
- Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ)
- Lane Regional Air Protection Agency (LRAPA)
- Oregon Health Authority (OHA)
- City of Eugene
- Lane County Health Department
- Oregon State University
- Beyond Toxics
- Active Bethel Community
- Bethel community members
The purpose of the Core Team is for community members and agency representatives to share information and ideas about how to resolve air, land, and water concerns around the Baxter facility. Together, the Core Team shares information about lived experiences, regulatory processes, and risk assessment data. These conversations are intended to collectively solve problems and to improve communications with each other and the broader community.
Since it's inception, the Core Team has met regularly to discuss health risks, environmental and public health assessment processes, and how community members can be engaged in these processes.
EHAP consulted with the Oregon State Cancer Registry (OSCaR) to investigate cancer cases in the community surrounding J.H. Baxter. EHAP conducted a similar study in 2006 and published a follow-up report in 2008 that contained additional data from the state cancer registry.
Community members from the Core Team requested this new cancer analysis and helped inform its design. This new investigation broadened the types of cancers included in previous analyses from 2006 and 2008 to include 22 different cancer types.
The results of OHA's newest cancer analysis are available in
this infographic (link). The analysis told us that:
- Twenty out of the twenty-two cancer types analyzed in these neighborhoods had the same or lower rates than in the state and county overall.
- Two cancer types, lung cancer and Hodgkin's lymphoma, had rates slightly higher in these neighborhoods than in the state or county overall.
OHA's cancer analysis did not tell us why rates of those two cancer types are slightly higher in these neighborhoods.