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OHA News Release

Media contact:
Marcia Danab
Oregon DEQ 503-229-6488
Technical contact:
Additional contacts:
Jonathan Modie
OHA Public Health 971-246-9139
Julie Sullivan-Springhetti
Multnomah County 503-709-9858


Air monitoring shows health concerns from heavy metals still low

Interagency group will continue to review, release information weekly

All heavy metals, including hexavalent chromium, in the air near two Portland glass factories remained below levels of immediate or short-term health concern during the last week of March, according to new monitoring data.

Data gathered from air monitors running 24 hours a day in southeast Portland near Bullseye Glass Co. and north Portland near Uroboros Glass found hexavalent chromium, cadmium, arsenic and other heavy metals in the air between March 25 and March 30, according to an interagency group that includes the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, Oregon Health Authority and the Multnomah County Health Department. However, near the glass companies the metals are at levels that are at a low risk of causing short-term health problems, according to an OHA toxicologist.

Long-term effects of these metals are not known. The agencies are conducting a comprehensive analysis of any potential long-term health effects from past and current conditions. The analysis includes a plan for two public health assessments (PHAs)—one for the area surrounding Bullseye and one for the area around Uroboros—that incorporate air and soil data available now and any additional data collected over the next several months. The PHAs are expected to be ready for release for public comment this fall.

The levels of all metals measured in the air near Bullseye during March were many times lower than what was measured there in October 2015, according to air monitoring results. They can be found on the SaferAirOregon website.

None of the sampling results were higher than the Oregon 24-hour screening levels. That means there is no immediate or urgent health risk related to these new results. Oregon 24-hour screening levels are short-term concentrations below which immediate health effects are not expected to occur.

Air monitors near Bullseye had shown a slight increase of hexavalent chromium during the week ending March 24, but values for the metal were still well below levels of health concern. State regulators continue to investigate all potential sources, and are analyzing wind speed and direction.

The newly released data covers monitoring through March 29 in north Portland and through March 30 in southeast Portland. Weekly air monitoring data will continue to be reported each Thursday by the interagency group and published at SaferAir.Oregon.gov.

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