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Cumulative Health Risk Pilot

As a person goes through the day, there are many sources of air pollutants that can affect their health, including where they live and work, the amount of traffic on the roads, and how they get from place to place. A person's health is affected by all local sources of pollution all at once. Sensitive populations, and those disproportionately exposed to pollution (such as communities of color) are particularly impacted.   

 In 2018 the Oregon legislature, in Senate Bill 1541, authorized DEQ to develop a pilot project to evaluate and address the cumulative impacts of air pollution from all sources in a community impacts health. The law includes direction on the size of area to evaluate, and allowable levels of pollution from commercial and industrial activities.   

The Community Health Risk Pilot program is an opportunity to look at how air pollution from many sources, all together, may affect the health of the community. This pilot will work with the community to understand their needs and create next steps to reduce pollution.     

DEQ is developing the first phase of this Cumulative Health Risk Pilot.    


Phase 1:
The first phase of this pilot is determining the location for modeling. DEQ will use already existing data and tools such as EJ Screen and facility permits to inform the location of this pilot. This phase is estimated to be competed in the winter of 2024. DEQ will host a public listening session to hear what other information should be used when deciding the area. 


Phase 2:
Once a location has been approved by the Environmental Quality Commission, DEQ will engage with the neighborhood associations, businesses, county government, community organizations, and other interested parties. DEQ will work with the communities to create shared goals and next steps. This phase also includes data modeling and inputs to look at air toxic pollution from all the sources in the area. This phase is the longest phase of the pilot and is projected to be completed late 2024 or early 2025. 


Phase 3:
The last phase is to look at the level of pollution and whether it is harmful to the health of the community. Phase three also includes developing next steps through an action plan based on pollution sources of greatest concern for that community. This part of the pilot is anticipated to be completed by late summer or early fall of 2025. 

This project is a new way to approach the effects of air pollution on a community's health. This pilot is focused on risk from specific sources of air pollution; but also looks to see how other sources may be harmful. At the end of this pilot, DEQ hopes to have new ways to evaluate the cumulative impacts of air pollution in an area.  CHRP also aims to create a plan with the community to provide the next steps for improving air quality.   

While this pilot is small in area, it will provide an opportunity to develop a model to support more air toxics efforts throughout Oregon. ​

Health is affected by all sources of pollution all at once, this is particularly true for the health of sensitive and overburdened people. In a day we do not get to exposed to one pollutant at a time, but rather many at one time. This is referred to as cumulative or additive pollution exposure.  

Where you live, work or spend time changes the type and level of pollution you are exposed to in a day and over a lifetime. Areas that have higher exposure are usually near industrial activities, highways, ports, and train tracks.  

Some populations may also be at higher risk from air toxics, including environmental justice communities. Health conditions such as asthma and heart disease change how your body reacts to pollution. 

The level and source of pollution in an area changes the possibility of someone getting cancer or other diseases. We call this risk.​

A pilot is a small-scale test. It is helpful when evaluating new data or ways of using data to inform action. Pilots are designed to inform larger, future studies and actions.  

The legislature directed DEQ to conduct this work in a limited area. DEQ will use this pilot to create methods that can be used for future work. ​​

DEQ expects the pilot project to result in recommendations for reducing risk from air toxics in the pilot area, and to provide a framework for evaluating the cumulative risk from air pollution in other communities and parts of the state.​​