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Should Citizens Near Portland Glass Factories See a Doctor?

March 15, 2016

The recent discovery of heavy metal pollution in some Portland neighborhoods has left residents wondering whether they should see a doctor.

Multnomah County Health Department said Friday those most exposed are those who spent significant amounts of time within half a mile of Bullseye and Uroborus Glass. Those are the two art-glass makers linked to high levels of arsenic, cadmium and chromium pollution in southeast and north Portland.

The county didn't say exactly how much exposure time requires a test, but it does say young children who frequently play in dirt are at risk of ingesting the heavy metals.

Pregnant women, too, are being advised to eat a healthy diet with plenty of calcium, iron and folic acid — nutrients that help protect against heavy metals.

Arsenic and cadmium can be found in breast milk, but the county recommends mothers continue breastfeeding — at least for now.

So far, an Oregon Health Authority study showed no local increase in cancers.

Multnomah County officials said testing is an individual decision that people should discuss with their doctor.

A map of elevated cadmium levels in Portland shows two hot spots. Two glass-makers that use cadmium near these areas have volunteered to stop using the metal in making colored glass. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality