PORTLAND, OR: High levels of cadmium, arsenic and chromium have been detected in Southeast Portland, with the area of 22nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard at the epicenter but plenty of Southeast Portland affected. The state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has noted increased levels of cadmium and arsenic and, in some regions, lead. These particular heavy metals are linked to serious health problems including cancer.
The medical community has not exactly jumped to meet the needs of concerned citizens in Portland. Partly, this is because providers often receive no training in the short or long term effects of heavy metal exposure. Even fewer doctors are exposed to the technique of chelation, whereby a substance is introduced into a person to bind up excess heavy metals to assist with excretion from the body. Chelation can be dangerous in itself if not done correctly.
Dr. Sara Kates-Chinoy, one of the owners of Grain Integrative Health in SE Portland, OR told us, “Right now the focus is really on our children. Perhaps we should also pay close attention to the parents of those children who may actually have a more difficult time eliminating these metals. Women are especially susceptible to breast cancer when individual risk vectors are high and there is chronic exposure to either or both cadmium and arsenic.”
The roll out of information is seemingly dependent on neighborhood efforts and the attempts of individual citizens to educate their neighbors and even the medical and government agencies. DEQ has said they are working with the Oregon Health Authority and Multnomah County Health Department to determine the risk to the public.
The physicians group at Grain Integrative Health have released information to their patients stating: “The concentrations of cadmium and arsenic that have been found in Southeast Portland are alarming and should prompt all health care providers to test their patients.” This is one clinic where the concerns about heavy metal exposure will not go un-addressed. The medical group has reached out to insurers and labs to ensure testing is accessible and affordable for patients. Many insurers have not had time to decide whether the testing for these heavy metals with fall above the line- meaning they will consider it reasonable and necessary testing and thereby reimburse patients for the labs.
Dr. Lindsay Baum notes, “We are putting the map down in front of our patients at each patient visit to encourage anyone in the noted zones to complete the right types of testing. We are hearing from our patients that many physicians do not know which tests to run, which labs to run tests through, and how much the labs will cost. Currently there is no government compensation for the testing, which leaves health care providers and patients in a bind when patient finances are restricted. We have assigned our staff to find out the cost through each lab offering appropriate testing, with government officials preferring ARUP as the central lab, this lowers the option of competitive pricing for patients.”
Various government officials have noted the source of heavy metals is likely from a well-known glass producer, Bullseye Glass, who employs many Portlanders to supply colored glass to artists. According to both DEQ and Bullseye, the glass company is not breaking any rules and is in compliance with its permits. Dr. Courtney Jackson states, “Our providers are trying to reach a sizable group of affected citizens and help them find personal answers. You don’t have to just sit back and wait, go to your doctor, come to one of our doctors, see any provider who knows how to do the right testing and how to treat you if your results come back high for either metal. We are developing protocols for various toxicity levels. As integrative providers we are able to offer alternatives that work or we can get you to a safe provider offering chelation.”
There are many concerns that will follow knowing the cause of pollution with the most challenging one relating how to treat the vast number of Portlanders affected by this type of chronic heavy metal exposure. Many health care providers will have to reach out of their comfort zones to find treatments that are safe, the appropriate strength and yet affective. The lack of Portland toxicologists who specialize in chelation means the city will have to help both providers and patients find a way to qualified care before more patients become ill. Until then, patients will have to find medical advocacy on their own.
SOURCE: Press Advantage [Link]
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