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Air Quality Home

The Oregon DEQ is a regulatory agency whose job is to protect and enhance the quality of Oregon's environment. In support of that mission, DEQ develops and implements a wide range of pollution controls, including regulating air pollution from the industry and transportation. The Air Quality Monitoring section of DEQ’s Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division is responsible for providing accurate scientific data concerning Oregon’s air quality. 

Air Quality Programs at DEQ

Oregon's air quality
Currently, all Oregonians live in areas that meet federal air quality standards. The Air Quality Index is a scale used to report actual levels of ozone and other common pollutants in the air. The higher the AQI, the higher the health concern. The AQI is divided into categories that correspond to different levels of health concern.

Sources of air pollution

Most air pollution comes from everyday activities. Think about your average day. You get up, take a shower, use hair spray or gel, take the bus or drive to school or work, eat a charbroiled hamburger (lighter fluid), drive home, do chores (mow the lawn, paint your house, clean your windows), drive to soccer practice, etc. About 90% of air pollution is generated from these everyday activities. Less than 10% is created from industry. Cars and trucks are the number one source of air pollution in Oregon.

Should we be concerned about air quality?

Yes. As Oregon’s population continues to grow, so do the activities that contribute to air pollution. Not only are more vehicles on the road, but there are more people painting, using toxic household products, mowing their lawns and burning woodstoves. Also, more individuals are driving larger, less fuel-efficient vehicles. This results in emissions from these sources accumulate in our air, requiring a greater effort from everyone to keep the air clean and protect our health.

How DEQ measures air pollution

Monitors or samplers are located in areas of the state with a history of, or the potential for, specific air pollution problems. To check current sampling sites in Oregon check our Air Quality Index

Common air pollutants the Environmental Protection Agency regulates include: Ozone, Lead, Particulate Matter, Carbon Monoxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulfur Dioxide and Volatile Organic Compounds. DEQ’s Air Quality Annual Report contains additional information on air quality monitoring and pollutant concentrations in Oregon.
Oregon's air quality history
It's important to remember Oregon's air hasn't always been this clean. In the early 1970's when monitoring of air first started, Oregon had serious air pollution problems. The Portland region sometimes violated the national air quality standard for ozone (smog) by as much as 50 percent! In 1981, one out of three days exceeded Carbon Monoxide (CO) violations in Portland. Now, due to new pollution control technology on vehicles and industries and the development of other pollution prevention programs, Oregon hasn't had a CO violation in years.
In the 1970’s a number of strategies were put into place to clean up the air. They focused on cars and trucks. This included new federal emission standards for vehicles, the launch of the vehicle inspection program in Portland and transit improvements. Other efforts included reformulating gas to make it less polluting and placing additional regulations on industry.