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OHA News Release

Media contact:
Jennifer Flynt
Oregon DEQ 503-730-5924
Technical contact:
Nina DeConcini
Oregon DEQ 503-804-0840
Additional contacts:
Jonathan Modie
OHA Public Health 971-246-9139
Julie Sullivan-Springhetti
Multnomah County 503-709-9858


DEQ-OHA joint news release: Portland glass companies to suspend use of chromium, cadmium

EDITORS: A media availability with representatives from DEQ and OHA is set for 4:45-5 p.m. TODAY in Room 1-D (ninth floor) of the Portland State Office Building, 800 NE Oregon St. It will be live streamed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98yWpo2CDGE.

Two Portland glass companies have agreed to stop using all chromium, cadmium and arsenic in their manufacturing processes in response to a request by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

The two companies are Bullseye Glass Co. in Southeast Portland and Uroboros in North Portland.

On Thursday, Feb. 11, DEQ requested both companies to voluntarily cease their use of all chromium compounds until further notice. Bullseye Glass Co. has agreed to suspend use of hexavalent chromium, and further agreed to stop using cadmium and arsenic; Uroboros agreed to suspend their use of all chromium compounds and cadmium, and does not use arsenic.

DEQ is working with each company to formalize agreements as soon as possible.

“DEQ appreciates the willingness of these companies to eliminate the use of all chromium compounds, cadmium and arsenic,” DEQ Director Dick Pedersen said today.

To guide DEQ’s metals sampling, the agency requested Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) from each company regarding the use of all metal compounds in their operations the week of Feb. 8, 2016. A preliminary analysis of the MSDS sheets indicated both companies were using compounds containing hexavalent chromium as a raw ingredient. Based on DEQ’s knowledge of the emission levels of cadmium and arsenic, it was determined there were likely to be other metals emissions.

While there is uncertainty about the chromium compound emissions, DEQ approached both companies about immediately suspending their use of all chromium compounds. DEQ has begun additional air monitoring and has initiated soil sampling in Southeast Portland. DEQ is preparing similar monitoring plans for North Portland, which will be available within the next week on the DEQ website at www.deq.state.or.us/nwr/metalsemissions.htm.

There are two types of chromium: chromium 3 (trivalent chromium) and chromium 6 (hexavalent chromium). Chromium 3 is the most common form and is an essential nutrient found in our bodies (and urine). Chromium 6 is less common but much more toxic. Inhaling chromium 6 at very high levels can cause acute respiratory and skin irritation. Chronic, low-level exposure to chromium 6 can increase the risk of certain lung cancers. DEQ does not yet have data regarding the levels of chromium 6 in this case.

A urine test is available, but cannot distinguish types of chromium, and cannot be used to predict health risks or diagnose disease. There is no benchmark for chromium levels in urine. Urine tests for chromium are difficult to interpret.

DEQ is compiling the list of facilities in Oregon permitted to emit chromium compounds. DEQ is researching other facilities that may be using chromium compounds that are not otherwise regulated for use.

For more information on the effects of chromium 6, visit the Agency for Toxic Substances & Disease Registry (ATSDR) webpage.

OHA has set up a phone line for residents concerned about the health effects of metals emissions: 971-673-0185, and an email address, EHAP.Info@state.or.us.

The Multnomah County Health Department and Portland Public Schools will host a second community open house with DEQ and OHA at Tubman Middle School on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 5-9 p.m.

For more information about the investigation and to get updates, visit www.deq.state.or.us/nwr/metalsemissions.htm (DEQ) and www.healthoregon.org/metalsemissions (OHA); and www.multco.us (Multnomah County).

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