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OHA News Release

Media contact:
Jennifer Flynt, DEQ
Technical contact:
Additional contacts:
Jonathan Modie
OHA Public Health 971-246-9139


Monitoring shows metals above air quality targets near Precision Castparts

Agencies find nickel, hexavalent chromium, arsenic above health-based goals

EDITORS: Brian Boling, DEQ laboratory program manager, and David Farrer, OHA toxicologist, are available today between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to discuss air monitoring results. Contact their agencies’ communications staffers to set up an interview.​ 

The first set of data from an air monitor placed near industrial manufacturer Precision Castparts Corp. in southeast Portland show levels of heavy metals nickel, hexavalent chromium and arsenic above health-protective air quality goals.


The data is the first of 35-day monitoring results from one of three monitors the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality set up at Southeast 45th Avenue and Southeast Harney Drive, just northwest of Precision Castparts. The data show arsenic levels were more than four times above the health-based target—ambient benchmark concentration—for the metal, although still within what’s found in urban environments (urban background) for the area, while nickel was almost two times above target, and hexavalent chromium was just over one time above target.

Though the levels of the metals are above health-based target concentrations, they are below Oregon 24-hour screening levels, so there is no indication of an immediate public health threat, according to a toxicologist at the Oregon Health Authority. They also do not indicate the need for any special precautions on the part of residents in the area.

Oregon 24-hour screening levels, short-term concentrations below which immediate health effects are not expected to occur, are 200 nanograms per cubic meter of air (ng/m3) for nickel, 36 ng/m3 for arsenic and 36 ng/m3 for hexavalent chromium. Comparison values for metals in air are at: http://public.health.oregon.gov/HealthyEnvironments/TrackingAssessment/EnvironmentalHealthAssessment/Documents/metals/comparison-values-metals-in-air.pdf.

The following table lists the 35-day average concentrations compared with what’s expected in urban environments (urban background), and the health-based target (ambient benchmark); data are listed in nanograms per cubic meter, or ng/m3:


Concentration (ng/m3)

Number of times over benchmark

Urban background (ng/m3)

DEQ ambient benchmark







Hexavalent Chromium











The company has informed DEQ that as of May 16 it has installed additional pollution control devices, including five HEPA filters and one baghouse. These supplement the existing 32 baghouses and two HEPA filters. The data being reported today is for between March 30 and May 4.  

The data from two additional monitors placed near Precision Castparts will be available in mid-June. Air monitoring is continuing daily, and the devices are operated 24 hours a day. Data that is complete will continue to be released as it is available.

An interagency group that includes DEQ and Oregon Health Authority is releasing today’s data as part of the Cleaner Air Oregon initiative to align industrial air toxics regulations with human health. More information about Cleaner Air Oregon can be found at http://CleanerAir.Oregon.gov