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Oregon Air Toxics Program

What are air toxics and where do they come from?

Air toxics are pollutants in the air that are bad for your health. Air toxics include diesel soot, benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (tar-like by-products from auto exhaust and other sources), metals including manganese, nickel and lead. 

How does DEQ lower air toxics in Oregon? 

DEQ's Air Toxics related work include ways to find and quantify emissions of air toxics, controlling emissions of air toxics through regulations and permits, and reducing the risks posed by air toxics through programs and policies.
Air toxics can be evaluated and addressed in three different ways: 
  • By source (where they come from), 
  • By area (the area they are found in), and 
  • By receptor (who they impact). 
There are many sources of air toxics. Some are naturally occurring like wildfire smoke, but most are produced from human activity such as industrial facilities, cars and trucks, and burning wood (including fireplaces and woodstoves). DEQ uses air monitors, models, and what facilities emit to find the amount and type of air toxics and other pollutants.

DEQ uses three approaches for air toxics: 

  • Find - DEQ uses monitoring, pollutant inventories and modeling to identify sources of air toxics emissions and assess levels of pollution in the environment. 
  • Control - Air toxics from facilities are controlled through Permits and the Cleaner Air Oregon program. 
  • Reduce - There are many programs that reduce air toxics such as woodstove regulations, vehicle inspections, clean fuel regulations, electric vehicle rebates, and grants for diesel mitigation. Additional sources of air toxics are addressed through the Oregon Air Toxics program, which works with communities and local governments to create plans to reduce air toxics in a specific area.