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Portland, OR—Hexavalent chromium, cadmium and arsenic continue to hover above health-based targets

Portland, OR— Three heavy metals remained above long-term health benchmarks in southeast Portland, based on new data from air monitors deployed by the state's environmental quality agency. The metals detected were: hexavalent chromium, cadmium and arsenic.

None of the metals were registered at levels that would be likely to cause any immediate health problems for people. However, the persistence of metals in the air at concentrations above the long-term health benchmarks raises the possibility that more health problems could occur in the future than normally would be expected.

Lead remained well below short-term and long-term health benchmarks, following the continuation of the state's cease and desist order against Bullseye Glass. Two weeks ago, lead was detected by one monitor at four times the short-term health benchmark.

Results of the latest monitoring data were derived from samples collected through May 17.

View the results:

New monitor deployed to identify source of hexavalent chromium
Last week, a new monitor was added near Reed College. The monitor, which will provide weekly data updates, will help the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality more accurately determine the source of hexavalent chromium. Air data from the monitor will be available with each weekly data release, starting next week.

State inspectors this week continued to review information obtained during inspections of multiple businesses in southeast Portland in an effort to pinpoint the source of elevated hexavalent chromium in the air.

Recently, agency staff returned to inspect Bullseye Glass and the Lehigh Cement distribution facility nearby. DEQ is analyzing samples of materials from both facilities (cement from Lehigh, and vent stack residue from Bullseye) to see if these could be sources of ongoing hexavalent chromium emissions detected at air monitors.

Emissions of hexavalent chromium have averaged above health-based targets since 24-hour monitoring began March 1. Arsenic levels are also above health-based targets, but they are consistent with levels that would typically be found in urban environments.

Weekly air monitoring data from southeast and north Portland are reported each week by the interagency group that includes DEQ and OHA, and published at For information about the Cleaner Air Oregon initiative to align industrial air toxics regulations with human health, visit

Jennifer Flynt, DEQ, 503-730-5924,
Robb Cowie, OHA, 503-421-7684,


Environment & Energy