Portland Clean Air is releasing today a new report calling into question the validity of Oregon’s air permitting system. The study, A Comparison of Toxic Chemical Use by Permit Type in Multnomah and Washington County, looks at toxic chemicals used by manufacturers in Multnomah and Washington Counties that are reported to the State Fire Marshall and compares them to those reported to air regulators. The study demonstrates that up to 95% of hazardous chemical usage is by industries that do not report their hazardous air pollution to a regulatory authority.
Governor Kate Brown initiated the Cleaner Air Oregon campaign after state agencies discovered that glass makers were the source of heavy metals – arsenic, cadmium, nickel and chromium – impacting nearby neighborhoods in Portland. Toxics heavy metals were found in the air and in the soil, including the soil of home gardens. Children were taken to doctors to have their blood tested for heavy metals known to cause cancer and neurological impairment. Residents were warned against eating their own homegrown vegetables! Indeed, Oregon has an air quality crisis due to a long history of lax regulations and negligible enforcement.
Beyond Toxics is publicizing local gardens friendly to our increasingly fragile population of pollinators. In this blog we visit Jessica Jackowski’s garden in Eugene.
Along a path at Crow Feather Farm, borage blossoms unfurl in spirals. A honeybee dances among them, then attaches herself upside down to a nectar-rich mini-grotto, proboscis sucking up sweetness. A few spirals over, a plump velvety bumblebee alights, and a hummingbird waits on a post nearby.
Beyond Toxics was one of the members of a Lane County Roadside Integrated Vegetation Management Plan Stakeholders group. The IVMP stakeholder group was very diverse, with members ranging from the Lane County Farm Bureau to NCAP to ODA to Beyond Toxics. The reason I agreed to join the IVMP stakeholder group was to tackle the challenge of researching, writing and working with others to adopt a true Herbicides as a Last Resort Policy. Lane County supposedly had such a policy on the books, but it was never actualized.
Recently, I had lunch in the employee cafeteria of an international corporation based in Lane County. I was somewhat amazed, but pleased, to see efforts to celebrate Farm Worker Appreciation Week. There were large colorful posters of farm workers and glossy brochures. Their handouts urged the reader to consider how their food is grown, who harvests their food and if workers are treated fairly.
In other words, consumers were being asked to evaluate the ethics of our food system and the impact our choices have on our planet and the people who work in the fields. Why aren’t we demanding the same information about the wood products we buy?
It's important to know when you're being poisoned by industrial toxic discharges, whether to air, water or land. Some would even say you have a right to know. But how much you can know depends on good laws. Gaps and loopholes in federal and state regulations have allowed stained-glass manufacturing companies to pollute Portland residential neighborhoods with heavy metals without anyone knowing that extremely hazardous air pollutants were going into the air.
It’s the bottom of the ninth, and Lane County citizens are down 0-3. From our seats in the nosebleed section of the bleachers, we find our home team facing direct impacts of localized carbon pollution, air quality and the size of our energy bills.
The comfortable chair that I just bought and sit in for hours each day is giving me a sore throat and making my eyes sting. I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve been experimenting for about a month now, and I can say for certain that after about a half hour of sitting in it – reading, doing my emails, or whatever – my throat starts to feel raw and I need to blink my eyes more. If I get up and move away from the chair, the symptoms dissipate until I go back there, and it starts again. I would just return the chair to the store, but there’s a no return policy. And if it’s actually emitting some sort of harmful chemical or fibers, I don’t want to give it away to an unsuspecting person who, like me, just wants to relax without side effects.