Air Quality

Air quality at a glance

The Environmental Protection Agency defines air pollution as "The presence of contaminants or pollutant substances in the air that interfere with our health or welfare, or produce other harmful environmental effects."
 

Sources of air pollution

Most air pollution comes from everyday activities. Think about your average day. You get up, take a shower, use hair spray or gel, take the bus or drive to school or work, eat a charbroiled hamburger (lighter fluid), drive home, do chores (mow the lawn, paint your house, clean your windows), drive to soccer practice, etc. About 90% of air pollution is generated from these everyday activities. Less than 10% is created from industry. Cars and trucks are the number one source of air pollution in Oregon.
 

Oregon's air quality

Currently, all Oregonians live in areas that meet federal air quality standards. The Air Quality Index is a scale used to report actual levels of ozone and other common pollutants in the air. The higher the AQI, the higher the health concern. The AQI is divided into categories that correspond to different levels of health concern.
 

Oregon's air quality history

It's important to remember Oregon's air hasn't always been this clean. In the early 1970's when monitoring of air first started, Oregon had serious air pollution problems. The Portland region sometimes violated the national air quality standard for ozone (smog) by as much as 50 percent! In 1981, one out of three days exceeded Carbon Monoxide (CO) violations in Portland. Now, due to new pollution control technology on vehicles and industries and the development of other pollution prevention programs, Oregon hasn't had a CO violation in years.
In the 1970’s a number of strategies were put into place to clean up the air. They focused on cars and trucks. This included new federal emission standards for vehicles, the launch of the vehicle inspection program in Portland and transit improvements. Other efforts included reformulating gas to make it less polluting and placing additional regulations on industry.
 

Should we be concerned about air quality?

Yes. As Oregon’s population continues to grow, so do the activities that contribute to air pollution. Not only are more vehicles on the road, but there are more people painting, using toxic household products, mowing their lawns and burning woodstoves. Also, more individuals are driving larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles. This results in emissions from these sources accumulate in our air, requiring a greater effort from everyone to keep the air clean and protect our health.

How DEQ measures air pollution

Monitors or samplers are located in areas of the state with a history of, or the potential for, specific air pollution problems. To check current sampling sites in Oregon check our Air Quality Index.
 
Common air pollutants the Environmental Protection Agency regulates include: Ozone, Lead, Particulate Matter, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrous Oxide, Sulfur Dioxide and Volatile Organic Compounds. DEQ’s Air Quality Annual Report contains additional information on air quality monitoring and pollutant concentrations in Oregon.

Contact

For more information about Air Quality call 503-229-5696

For reporting pollution problems contact Complaints

For technical assistance contact DEQINFO

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