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Pollution Raises Possibility Of Portland-Area Air Quality Board

February 18, 2016

Air pollution discovered in Portland has led some leaders to consider the formation of a local air quality agency.

Portland area leaders are reacting to the discovery earlier this month of arsenic, cadmium and chromium in the air of Southeast and North Portland. The elements are potentially harmful, even carcinogenic.  

Glass manufacturers who the Department of Environmental Quality identified as the main sources of the chemicals have suspended their industrial use of those elements — though state officials note the companies were operating within permitted guidelines.  

The gap between what the state allows and what's considered healthy air has led local officials, such as Multnomah County chair Deborah Kafoury, to consider various options to address the problem.

One idea they're discussing is the formation of a local air quality agency.

Forming such an agency wouldn't be unprecedented under Oregon law. The Lane Regional Air Protection Agency in the Eugene area has been around almost 50 years.

Bullseye Glass has suspended the use of cadmium, arsenic and chromium in response to concerns about nearby air pollution.

Cassandra Profita, OPB