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September 2012  

Dear Friends,


Yesterday morning, I held a press conference to voice my concern about the recent influx of proposals for coal export by train the Pacific Northwest has been receiving. These proposals from the coal industry call for millions of tons of coal mined in the United States to be shipped across Oregon and Washington for shipment overseas. This practice has the potential to affect human and environmental health in our region and I believe that as the local public health authority, Multnomah County has a responsibility to look into all the possible impacts.

Coal is commonly transported in rail cars without covers and according to BNSF Railway, each coal car releases at least 500 pounds in coal dust while in transit. These open-top rail cars could contaminate cities, towns, farmland, forestland, streams and rivers across the state of Oregon with coal dust.

Coal contains mercury, lead and arsenic. Prolonged exposure to these toxic, heavy metals has been linked to cancer and birth defects. Coal dust can be inhaled in the human respiratory system, exacerbating conditions such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, as well as causing chronic bronchitis and emphysema.   


Click here for video of my Sept. 10 press conference
Click here to view video from my Sept. 10 press conference. 

It's not just the coal that causes pollution. Train engines pump emissions into the air and
Multnomah County already has elevated levels of diesel particulate matter when it comes to air quality. In fact, county residents breathe the most polluted air in all of Oregon. This is a truth our community health workers are confronted with regularly as they care for residents, helping to alleviate health symptoms brought on or aggravated by air pollution.

But the public has the right to know what's at risk. That's why--in my role as the chair of the county's Board of Public Health--I'm calling for an immediate study to determine the impacts of coal on our community's health. Our health department will be in charge of the study and report back to me this fall.

Safeguarding the health of our population is undeniably one of the most important functions of Multnomah County government. Through our many services including clinics, education, prevention and treatment programs, the county works hard to help our residents be the healthiest they can be. I'll be sure to let you and the rest of the public know the results.   


Click here to view video of my Sept. 10 press conference. Click here to read my prepared remarks. 



Jeff Cogen 


Navigate health care reform changes with new resources
Receiving a check-up On Sept. 1, the state's largest coordinated care organization, Health Share of Oregon launched its operations. With this launch, 212,000 Oregon Health Plan members who have received medical and behavioral health care in Multnomah, Washington or Clackamas counties will now be enrolled in either Health Share of Oregon or FamilyCare Health Plans, Inc.

In our role as Oregon's largest safety net medical primary and dental health care provider, the county's health department is now implementing enrollment, billing and other changes needed to coordinate our work with Health Share of Oregon and FamilyCare Health Plans, Inc.

To help residents navigate these changes to our health care system, we have compiled a list of resources, contact numbers and frequently asked questions on our Beyond Transformation website. At the county, we are excited to be a part of improving the health care of so many of our residents.
Successful CROPS season yields fresh, healthy food for hungry residents

This 2012 has been an exciting year at our County CROPS farm. In its fourth summer of operation, the surplus county lot-turned-farm has produced more than 5,000 pounds of organically grown vegetables for families in need by way of the Oregon Food Bank.

County CROPS farm 2012
CROPS farm volunteers hard at work.

This summer's harvest of garlic, peppers, broccoli, onions, kale and more has been impressive, outweighing harvest totals seen last year at this time by around 2,300 pounds.   

Much of CROPS growth can be attributed to generosity of local businesses like Log House Plants, Westwind Gardens, Portland Nursery and Naomi's Organic Farm Supply, which have donated assorted plant starts and seeds throughout the growing season, as well as volunteers from Hands on Greater Portland who have given their time and energy to help plant and harvest.

[Read more

County animal services teams up with local  business partners to make pet adoption more convenient
Multnomah County Animal Services Logo

At the county, one of our areas of responsibility is caring for the health, safety and welfare of our pets through Multnomah County Animals Services (MCAS). As an open-admission facility, our shelter must accept all kinds of pets, regardless of the state of their health or the likelihood that they'll be adopted.

One of MCAS's top goals is to ensure that as many pets residing in the county shelter as possible have the opportunity to be adopted into loving homes. In the pursuit of this goal, we've identified a major obstacle: the remote location of the county's animal shelter in Troutdale.

To address this issue and increase cat adoption rates (cats currently account for about 72 percent of our shelter's animal population) MCAS has teamed up with four Portland-based, permanent, cat adoption outreach sites.

[Read more
Multnomah County back-to-school toolkit
This school year keep your kids healthy and engaged by taking advantage of these county programs:


Homework Center  

The Multnomah County Library Homework Center is a useful study tool for any child in school. Students can text a librarian 24/7 with their research questions or browse the library's extensive  

homework database for reliable research resources. 


School-Based Health Centers

School bus Based in local elementary, middle and high schools, our 13 school-based health centers provide preventative, primary and mental health care to Multnomah County school-aged youth.    

Upcoming deadline for Business Advisory Council applications
Business Advisory Council The county is seeking business owners, executives, directors and managers who are interested in improving our local economy and the environment for businesses in Multnomah County by serving on the Multnomah County Business Advisory Council (BAC).


The BAC meets quarterly and is comprised of up to 15 community members, each of whom is appointed for up to a two-year term.


The deadline to apply for a seat on the BAC is this Friday, Sept. 14. Click here for more information and to download an application.

Multnomah County is Oregon's most populous county with about 735,000 residents.  Multnomah County is governed by a Board of four elected Commissioners and one Chair. Multnomah County employees provide citizens a wide range of health and human services, public safety services and other government services.  

Multnomah County values the privacy of personal information and will not sell or otherwise disclose your email address, except as provided under Chapter 192 of the Oregon Revised Statues pertaining to Records; Public Reports and Meetings.

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