Monday, June 28, 2010

EPA report confirms: Portland's air is Toxic

The Sunday New York Times reported that EPA's inspector general said the agency is ten years behind schedule in setting guidelines for a host of air toxic benchmarks. Even more damning, the "agency had not met targets outlined in a 1999 planning document, the Integrated Urban Air Toxics Strategy, including tracking urban dwellers' risk of developing health problems from exposure to pollutants.

Frank O'Donnell, the president of Clean Air Watch, an environmental watchdog group based in Washington, said the inspector general's report made clear that 'the issue of breathing cancer-causing chemicals in city air is something of an orphan issue.' For example, the agency's last assessment of the risk of toxic air pollutants is based on emissions data from 2002. That analysis found that 1 in 28,000 people, or 36 in 1 million, could develop cancer from lifetime exposure to air toxics from outdoor sources. That number is an average, however, and people living in densely populated cities may face a higher risk."

The people most exposed, Mr. O'Donnell said, 'are probably not out in the wheat farms - they're going to be people living near where the bus depots are.'"

As Paul Koberstein has noted, Mr. O'Donnell is referring to communities like ours, situated in Portland's toxic hot spots. In fact, Koberstein notes that in Portland we are at 1 excess cancer in 12,000 people or 79 in a million, so we are just more than double the national average.

This just underscores how on track we are to be pressuring the DEQ to address the health risks of air toxics, specifically our children and other vulnerable populations who live, work, play and go to school in Portland's toxic hot spots.

Many of us have experienced the frustration in addressing our concerns to DEQ about the health effects of the toxic emissions from regulated polluters. Over 500 people have signed the petition online and on paper, because every meeting has been the same: complaints of odors, confusing data, and inaction from the agency. That is why our group has elected to take our concerns downtown and deliver the petition in person, to remind DEQ that citizen's expect our health to be put above the needs of polluters.  I hope you will join us Wednesday to deliver the message:

What's in our air? Rally
DEQ Headquarters -- 811 SW 6th Avenue, 1 block south of Pioneer Courthouse Square
blue sky NCA logoWe will meet for a photo in front of the building @ 4:30.
Then a group (whoever would like) can proceed inside DEQ before the 5pm deadline for public comment closes on the current air toxics benchmark rulemaking.

For more information about our Wednesday event and to RSVP please visit the 

1 comment:

  1. Since it has gone through a check and now discovered the toxicity much has to be done to remedy the effect of this polluted air.There are many other places which are equally polluted...each country has to get conscious and take care of this problem individually.