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  • Celebrating Progress - A Message From the Director

    Dear Oregonians,

     
    This year marks 50 years since the death of Rachel Carson, the biologist and conservationist awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter for raising awareness of the indiscriminate use of pesticides in the 1950s and 1960s. She almost single-handedly helped reverse pesticide policies across the country, including a nationwide ban on DDT.
     
    Since Carson’s death in 1964, we have come so far in our understanding of pesticides. The chemicals used in the past (include DDT and its chemically-close cousins) have been replaced with far less-toxic alternatives. Application practices have been localized, greatly reducing the amount of pesticides being used. Oregon DEQ is also working closely with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the agricultural community on best practices for application and encouraging biological alternatives to chemicals to control insect population.
     
    I am extremely proud of DEQ’s efforts, and the interest and cooperation we have built with growers. In general, growers across Oregon have worked with DEQ in recent years to reduce the use and impact of pesticides. The Toxics Reduction Strategy and in particular the Pesticide Stewardship Program outline many of the successful strategies we’ve used to produce quantifiable benefits to the environment.  
     
  • Oregon’s electronics recycling program expands its scope

    It’s getting easier to recycle more of your unwanted electronics equipment in Oregon – thanks in part to the latest expansion of the DEQ-administered and electronics manufacturer-funded Oregon E-Cycles Program.

    Already, you may bring your unwanted televisions, computers and monitors to one of more than 270 collection facilities and recyclers throughout the state. And, beginning on Jan. 1, 2015, you’ll also be able to recycle your computer “peripherals” – keyboards and mice – as well as printers. The expanded recycling operations are expected to boost Oregon’s already nationally high rate of recycling.

    “The addition of new devices to Oregon’s program demonstrates the strong commitment of Oregonians to responsibly recycle their electronic waste while protecting our shared environment,” said Craig Lorch, CEO of Total Reclaim, which operates a recycling facility in northeast Portland.

     

    Read more...

     
  • ​Five cities, 84,000 pounds of pesticides, 141 participants, one common goal
    Growers disposed of more than 84,000 pounds of pesticides in 2014, thanks to collection events funded by the Oregon legislature to protect human health and groundwater throughout the state.
     
    DEQ worked with partners to hold five pesticide collection events throughout the year, and 141 people participated in the cities of Milton-Freewater, Hermiston, Ontario, Madras, and McMinnville. The collected products included unused, outdated and banned pesticides, some dating back more than two decades.
     
    Read more...
     
  • Question: Can you explain what the new EPA Ozone rules have to do with the ozone layer?

    Ozone: Good up high, but bad nearby

    Great question (and timely, too!). Yes, the EPA recently proposed to tighten their ground level ozone standard, from 75 ppb (parts per billion) to between 65 and 70 ppb.

    But what is ozone anyway? It’s a colorless, odorless gas that can be harmful to human health and plant life. Or, put another way, it’s smog.
     
    But here’s where your question gets tricky. You probably remember not long ago that the ozone layer was shrinking. Yes, that protective layer high in the sky was developing quite a large hole. And you probably remember hearing how that was a bad thing, right?
     
    Now your head is spinning. If ozone is smog (bad), and the ozone layer (good) is shrinking (bad again), what gives? 
     
    Don’t worry. You’re not the only one confused.

    Read more...

  • Woodstove smoke a source of winter air pollution in Oregon
     
    October brings cooler temperatures to Oregon, which means now is a perfect time to talk about woodstove smoke. If not used correctly, woodstoves can emit a lot of smoke, which is bad news for both the environment and your health.
    Consider this: It only takes 20 of the older, non-certified woodstoves to emit more than one ton of fine particular pollution (called PM2.5) into the air. The problem gets bigger when you realize people burn more than 10 million woodstoves in just the United States.
     
    Smoke from wood-burning stoves and fireplaces contain a mixture of harmful gases and small particles. Breathing these small particles can cause asthma attacks and severe bronchitis, aggravate heart and lung disease and increase the likelihood of respiratory illnesses.
     
    Fortunately, burning smart is fairly easy to do.
     
    Read more ...
     
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DEQ Office Locations, Hours and Closures
In April 2015, the DEQ’s Western Region office in Salem will move to a new location – 4026 Fairview Industrial Drive, Salem, OR. 97302.
The target date for operating at the new location is Monday, April 6th, 2015.
 
This spring, DEQ's Northwest Region Office will move to a new location - the 700 Lloyd building at 700 NE Multnomah St., Portland, OR 97232.
The target date for operating at the new location is May 26th, 2015.
 
 
For notice of inclement weather closures at DEQ and statewide, check the Oregon State Office Closures page.
 

What we know about Portland wood burning

 
How you choose to heat your home makes a difference – to your health and the air you breathe. A third of Portland region residents choose to burn wood in a woodstove or fireplace. That’s a key finding in a recent DEQ wood burning survey report.

Five percent of respondents who rely on wood as a primary heat source burn 51 percent of the firewood in the Portland region. Many of the 28 percent who burn wood as a secondary source of heat use uncertified wood stoves or fireplace inserts and fireplaces that are at least five times more polluting than certified woodstoves. Similar to other Oregon communities, most fine particulate from wood burning in the Portland region comes from uncertified wood burning appliances.

DEQ is using this information to work with local government partners to reduce pollution from wood burning. The most effective strategies could be changing out uncertified woodstoves and fireplace inserts, and successfully implementing a wood burning advisory where residents cease discretionary wood burning during periods of air stagnation when pollutants build up to unhealthy levels.