pollution

A glass facility in Southeast Portland has suspended the use of cadmium and arsenic in its operations after testing found unhealthy levels of those metals in the air nearby.

Oregon health officials are warning of unhealthy levels of heavy metals in Southeast Portland's air. They found high levels of cadmium and arsenic at a monitoring station near SE Powell Boulevard and SE 22nd Avenue.

The sponsors of a Washington initiative to tax carbon emissions say they're considering not turning in a final batch of about 100,000 voter signatures by December 31 that would all but assure the measure would go before the legislature in January.

It has taken five years, but low-copper and copper-free brakes are now available in Washington. That’s because of a 2010 law designed to phase out the use of copper and other toxics in brake pads.

For the first time since it instituted a warning system in 2013, Beijing has issued a "red alert" over dangerous levels of air pollution.

The state news agency Xinhua reported that the city's air is thick with smog and the skyline is obscured by the haze.

The agency reports:

"This is the first time the capital has issued the red alert, which will last from 7:00 a.m. Tuesday to 12:00 p.m. Thursday.

Contaminated Soil Lingers Where Apples Once Grew

Oct 16, 2015
Jennifer Garcia with her daughter, Hannah, 2. Garcia found out the soil in her yard tested high for arsenic. It’s left over from pesticides sprayed before the 1950s on this same piece of land, when it was an orchard.
EarthFix/Lena Jackson

YAKIMA, Wash. -- At homes and day care centers throughout Central Washington, children play in yards contaminated with lead and arsenic.

The state’s Department of Ecology knows about this, and has for decades.

Washington officials are delaying the environmental review of a proposed coal export terminal on the Columbia River.

The Washington Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were scheduled to complete their joint environmental reviews next month for the Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export project in Longview, Wash.

Tips For Staying Safe Around Contaminated Soil

Oct 15, 2015

Millions of acres of farm and orchard land in the United States have been converted to residential uses. In some cases, old pesticides could still be in the soil, even from spraying that occurred decades ago.

How A Banned Chemical Helped Clean Up Washington’s Orchards

Oct 15, 2015

Imagine an apple, rotten at its core, pocked with worm holes and brown, pasty insect excrement spilling out the side. Now imagine an apple free of insects but coated in lead and arsenic, like a candied apple of toxic metal. Which would you rather eat?

In the 1930s that was the orchardist’s dilemma. Succumb to the codling moth and its lust for apples, or fight the pest the only way you knew how.

Today, you don’t have to make that choice. And you have the banned chemical DDT to thank in part for that.

A liable party makes a world of difference for Washington’s Department of Ecology. When the agency finds pollution, being able to point the finger at a specific company means funding for its cleanup programs.

That’s what happened in Tacoma, where the state won a $95 million settlement in 2009 with Asarco, which operated a smelter in the area. It left lead and arsenic contamination throughout more than 400,000 acres of Pierce and King counties.

After more than two decades of fighting in court, the Hanford Downwinders case has ended. The approximately 3,000 Downwinders have all either dropped their claims or arrived at a settlement.

A file photo of a member of Puget Sound's Swinomish tribe participating in a ceremonial salmon blessing. Northwest tribes hold vigils along the Columbia River to pray for the return of salmon.
KUOW Photo/Katie Campbell

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday the state is pursuing clean water rules that match federal recommendations for protecting human health.

Inslee said he would direct the Washington Department of Ecology to draft new rules that reduce pollution enough for people to safely eat more fish from Washington waters.

Northwest communities are breathing easier than many places in the United States after federal regulators clamped down on ozone pollution, the main component of smog.

The Environmental Protection Area last week lowered the acceptable limit to 70 parts per billion. The new clean air standard is not as far-reaching as health and environmental advocates were calling for. But it’s more strict than many industry representatives wanted to see.

As of 2014, no region in Washington or Oregon were averaging greater than 65 parts per billion.

What is ozone?

The Environmental Protection Agency came out with new rules Thursday that will make it harder to pollute the air with ozone, the main ingredient in smog.

The new allowable threshold in the air is 70 parts per billion, down from 75.

While many cities across the U.S. will be forced to make changes to improve air quality, Northwest communities are generally in good shape for now.

Pages