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OHA News Release

Media contact:
Jennifer Flynt
Oregon DEQ 503-730-5924
Technical contact:
Additional contacts:
Jonathan Modie
OHA Public Health 971-246-9139


Cleaner Air Oregon launches public engagement phase

Community input will inform industrial air toxics rules that integrate health

PORTLAND—Cleaner Air Oregon, a program created by Governor Kate Brown and jointly led by Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), today launched a public engagement process to support the program’s efforts to improve the health of all Oregonians by overhauling the state’s industrial air toxics regulatory standards.

“Public health and environmental science indicate there is more we can do to address industrial toxics in our air,” Governor Brown said. “We must do more.”

Cleaner Air Oregon seeks to put human health front and center as the state looks at overhauling industrial air toxics regulations to incorporate health-based standards. A foundation of the regulatory reform is the involvement of a broad array of perspectives from people across the state.

“We invite the people of Oregon to share with us the things that matter most to them—whether that’s human health, environmental quality, economic vitality of our communities or other concerns—and together help shape the rules to protect our shared priorities and create a safer, healthier Oregon for generations to come,” said Peter Shepherd, DEQ’s interim director.

State seeks input on health-based regulatory overhaul

DEQ and OHA are seeking broad-based public input into the Cleaner Air Oregon regulatory reforms.
  • Oregonians can begin sharing comments and following the process at a new website, CleanerAir.Oregon.gov.
  • Statewide public forums will be held starting this fall.
  • An advisory group made up of strong representation from three critical priorities for Oregon: human health, environmental health and economic health. Members of the group will be Oregonians who reflect the communities facing the greatest challenges from air pollution, as well as people from the broader community and those from business and industry. The group’s work will be informed by input from the public engagement process, as well as by environmental and health technical staff members from state agencies, and other science and health experts.
Oregon’s current air toxics regulations for industries limit environmental emissions, but do not cap the total amount of contaminants a facility may release. The regulations are not designed to take into account the local impacts of industrial pollution on human health.

“We’re poised to take a new approach to regulation, and for DEQ and Oregon Health Authority to collaborate in a new way that benefits Oregonians and contributes to a healthier state,” said OHA Director Lynne Saxton. “The new regulations will incorporate human health science, together with environmental science, to drive decision-making.”

New air toxics regulations will close gaps in current rules

The guidelines will set limits on toxic air emissions for industrial sources based on risks to human health; define exposure and emission levels that protect human health; and cover a comprehensive range of industries across the state. The rules will apply to facilities that emit a wide variety of potentially harmful toxics.

In addition to this regulatory overhaul, DEQ and OHA are taking additional steps for air quality:
  • Addressing toxics in glass manufacturing: DEQ today proposed temporary rules to the DEQ’s policy and rulemaking board, the Environmental Quality Commission, which the commission adopted. The temporary rules regulate small art glass manufacturers to reduce metals emissions. In the Portland area, DEQ will set up air monitors around potential “hot spots” to measure air pollutants using data from moss studies.
  • Identifying concentrations of pollutants statewide: DEQ also is developing plans to use moss testing and other innovative techniques to screen for areas of elevated air toxics in other parts of the state.
  • Comprehensive responses to air quality and health safety: OHA is developing a new program called Healthy Places Oregon. Under this initiative, OHA will conduct health assessments in five to 10 communities. Through these assessments, health experts will work with local communities to identify the highest priority health issues and environmental pollutants affecting health safety. OHA staff will work with state and local policy makers to develop solutions.
More information can be found at CleanerAir.Oregon.gov.

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