Read North/Northeast Portland’s Air Pollution Report Here. You will find a map and narrative with facts about industrial facilities and diesel truck pollution. Learn what we can do to improve air quality.
Excerpt from report:
NECN is concerned about the air pollution coming from several factories, particularly the clusters around the I-5 corridor and Columbia Avenue. For example, Tarr LLC is a chemical distributor, located near the Concordia and Woodlawn Neighborhoods, which was identified by the latest EPA Toxics Release Inventory as one of the largest air polluters in Oregon. Tarr LLC currently emits over 4,218 pounds of toxic industrial solvents from their factory at 2946 NE 1 Columbia Blvd annually. Precision Equipment Inc., close to the Woodlawn Neighborhood, is a hard chrome electroplating factory. Although Precision uses a scrubber, which is a device that filters emissions, we would like them to switch from hexavalent chromium, a potent carcinogen, to trivalent chromium, a safer alternative for chrome plating. Some dry cleaners in our neighborhoods still use toxic and cancer-causing perchloroethylene instead of currently available safe alternatives. All dry cleaners included on the cover of this report use perchloroethylene; we estimate about one 55 gallon drum is released on site annually per dry cleaner. California’s Air Resources Board banned the substance from use in new dry-cleaning machines in 2007.
Citizen involvement is needed to address Northeast Portland air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Air Toxics Assessment (NATA), released in December 2015 found that Portland ranked as the worst city nationwide for respiratory distress. For cancer risk, Multnomah County ranks in the worst 2% of US Counties. This is due in part to lax, unenforceable air pollution regulation. An example of this problem is Uroboros Art Glass Factory, located in Eliot Neighborhood. Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the regulatory agency responsible for air safety, announced in early 2016 that neighborhoods surrounding Uroboros had a monthly average of 49 times the state’s established air-safety benchmark level for cadmium, based on information gathered from the US Forest Service moss study. Cadmium exposure is linked to cancer, respiratory problems, and organ damage. A recent study by the Oregon Health Authority found that for the years 1999-2003, there was a small yet statistically significant increase in the rate of bladder cancer in one census tract near Uroboros. Researchers state that more studies are needed at this time. Bladder cancer can be linked to arsenic, which is a chemical Uroboros used in their processes in the past. Uroboros, like other similar facilities, had been operating in compliance with the law.
Despite Oregon’s established health benchmarks, there has been no regulatory requirements associated with such benchmarks. A failure of oversight, regulation, and transparency has led to inadequate testing, monitoring, and emissions controls like smokestack filters. Citizen outcry over heavy metals from Portland glass factories caused new rules requiring Uroboros to install a scrubber and clean their stacks. As of October 2016, Uroboros announced they are going out of business.
The most dangerous cancer causing air pollutant in North/Northeast Portland is diesel particulate. Boise, Eliot, and Humboldt neighborhoods border the I-5 corridor, which are subject to diesel particulate from short haul trucks. Diesel particulate acts like the liquid mist in an inhaler by efficiently delivering harmful chemicals from the air, into the lungs, where it easily enters the bloodstream. Multnomah County air ranked in the worst 1% of counties nationwide for concentrations of diesel particulate according to the last EPA NATA. This is due to Oregon’s weak regulation of industrial diesel trucks. Filtered trucks emit less than one tenth of the diesel particulate but Oregon is not required to have filters on its trucks. Unfiltered diesel trucks are illegal in California. NECN has obtained a spreadsheet of every diesel truck in Oregon from Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles, including model year and owner. Model year can help determine whether a diesel particulate filter was installed. Since 2008, federal rules require truck engines to be built with diesel particulate filters, but trucks built before 2009, when 2008 engines were implemented into new trucks, rarely have filters. Read the full report Here.