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Uroboros Glass has signed an agreement with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality that prohibits the use of cadmium, chromium and nickel to protect public health until pollution controls can be installed on the company's furnaces.

Derek Bowen is standing on top of small, enclosed trailer, at the edge of a grassy park in Eugene. It’s overcast and misty but an acronym on the side of this air monitoring station is clear: LRAPA – Lane Regional Air Protection Agency.

Bowen comes down a ladder with a small cylindrical filter in hand. It's been collecting super-tiny particles from car exhaust and wood burning that get lodged in people’s lungs.

Government agencies announced Wednesday that the health risk around Portland glass manufacturers is low.

The DEQ said Wednesday that it took 67 soil samples from the area around Bullseye Glass in southeast Portland. Samples were taken from a Fred Meyer parking lot, a day care center and Powell Park.

The samples were tested for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and several other elements.

They found that most heavy metals were at background levels. But there were a few samples that showed elevated levels.

Erin Meeker lives within a half mile of Bullseye Glass in Portland. Her 2-year-old goes to daycare across the street from the artistic glass factory.

Meeker is one of the seven people who’ve filed a lawsuit against the glassmaker with help from the Seattle law firm Keller Rohrback.

“My No. 1 concern is our health and our neighbor’s health,” she said.

The recent discovery of heavy metal pollution in some Portland neighborhoods has left residents wondering whether they should see a doctor.

Multnomah County Health Department said Friday those most exposed are those who spent significant amounts of time within half a mile of Bullseye and Uroborus Glass. Those are the two art-glass makers linked to high levels of arsenic, cadmium and chromium pollution in Southeast and North Portland.

The artistic glass maker at the center of Portland’s toxic air pollution controversy is taking steps to control its emissions.

Bullseye Glass submitted a notice Friday to Multnomah County that it intends to install a pollution filtration system called a baghouse. It’s meant to capture particulate that would otherwise escape from the company’s glass-melting furnace.

A few dozen Portlanders rallied at Pioneer Courthouse Square on Thursday to demand stronger action against air polluters, in light of recently discovered concentrations of heavy metals.

"Clean air now! Clean air now!" they chanted as they delivered a letter to the Department of Environmental Quality's downtown Portland office.

Brown said she'll review the request, but added that legislators helped the air quality cause in the regular session.

Seven plaintiffs have filed a class action lawsuit against Bullseye Glass, a Southeast Portland manufacturer accused of emitting unhealthy levels of toxic heavy metals into that air.

Environmental testing by the U.S. Forest Service recently revealed the issue. Researchers found that moss throughout Portland pointed to “hot spots” with concentrations of toxic heavy metals like cadmium, arsenic, nickel and lead.

3rd Portland Company In Toxic Metal Pollution Spotlight

Mar 2, 2016

A third Portland company faces scrutiny for toxic metal pollution.

At a meeting of the Milwaukie City Council Tuesday, state environmental regulators said they will delay issuing a new air quality permit for Precision Castparts due to concerns over metal emissions.

Precision Castparts makes airplane components. One of its large factories sits on the boundary between Southeast Portland and Milwaukie.

That's also where scientists found high concentrations of nickel in moss they were studying.

Families near two Portland glass manufacturers say they need more help from state regulators.

Last month, warnings were issued about elevated levels of airborne arsenic and cadmium near the Bullseye and Uroborus glass companies.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Director Dick Pedersen is stepping down effective mid-March, Gov. Kate Brown announced Tuesday.

Pedersen's resignation follows weeks of public outcry and criticism of DEQ over the discovery of unhealthy levels of cadmium and arsenic in the air in Southeast Portland.

DEQ Deputy Director Joni Hammond will replace Pedersen as interim director until a permanent successor can be named.

Environmental regulators have said a novel U.S. Forest Service study of heavy metals trapped in moss tipped them off to problems with toxic emissions at Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland.

But they’ve received a string of complaints dating back decades about the artistic glass manufacturer, according to documents released under Oregon’s open records law.

The Global Reach Of Bullseye Glass

Feb 29, 2016

Glass artists are coming to terms with a world that has a bit less color in it.

Over the past few weeks you've heard us report on the emissions tests that revealed unhealthy levels of heavy metals near the Bullseye and Uroboros glass plants in Portland. Both companies suspended production of some colors. It's making ripples in the supply available to artists far beyond Oregon.

Since the discovery of heavy metals pollution coming from an artistic glass manufacturer in Portland, Washington regulators have taken a close look at a similar facility near Seattle. So far, they say, they’re not worried – in part because air monitors nearby aren't detecting elevated metals in the area.

Spectrum Glass in Woodinville, Washington, uses metals to make the same kind of colored glass products as Bullseye Glass in Southeast Portland. But unlike Bullseye it hasn't been using arsenic and it has pollution controls on many of its furnaces.

Washington state regulators are setting aside the rules they’ve been working on to limit the amount of greenhouse gases that can be emitted into the air.

The Department of Ecology was instructed by Gov. Jay Inslee to draw up the rules. Originally they targeted about 40 companies including oil refineries, utilities, pulp and paper mills, and steel and concrete manufacturers.

Ecology held meetings with representatives of some of those companies before Friday’s announcement that it was suspending its rule-making process.

Since officials announced the discovery of unhealthy levels of arsenic and cadmium in the air in Southeast Portland earlier this month, they've released a lot of new information about airborne heavy metals and the associated public health risks.

Here's what you should know at this point:

The discovery came from testing tree moss.

OR DEQ Seeks $1.5 Million To Test, Regulate Air Pollution

Feb 23, 2016

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality Director Dick Pedersen told state lawmakers Tuesday his agency needs $1.5 million for air pollution work in light of the recent discovery of airborne heavy metals in Portland.

Recent air testing found unhealthy levels of cadmium and arsenic in the air in Southeast Portland. Regulators have linked the heavy metals to a facility that uses metals to make colored glass but the detections have raised a lot of questions about why regulators didn't know until now how much cadmium and arsenic Bullseye Glass was emitting.

Three members of Oregon's congressional delegation are asking federal agencies to help state and local officials identify health risks of airborne heavy metals in Portland.

About 200 residents gathered at Harriet Tubman Middle School Thursday for a second community meeting on the recent discovery of heavy metals in the air in Portland.

The meeting was much like the first session last week, with officials from Oregon Health Authority, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the U.S. Forest Service and Portland Public Schools available to answer questions and hear concerns.

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.

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