State agencies use USFS moss data to take air quality actions

Cleaner Air Oregon News

Portland, OR – The (DEQ) and (OHA), investigating heavy metal emissions, are using new U.S. Forest Service (USFS) data from moss samples, gathered as part of an air quality study, to prioritize sites around Portland for investigation and action.

“We’re committed to working with Multnomah County and DEQ to mitigate any health risks that these metals pose,” said Lynne Saxton, OHA director.

Pete Shepherd, DEQ interim director, said, “The results of the USFS study will help us more quickly and officially identify, and then address, public health concerns arising from elevated levels of metals in our air.”

Joanne Fuller, director of Multnomah County’s Health Department, explained that “any tools that can be used to help protect the safety and welfare of children, families and others who live near potential releases of air toxins is a good thing.”

“We need to use whatever resources are at our disposal,” she said. “The health of our community is at risk and we will all continue to work to find quick solutions so people can stay healthy.”

DEQ will deploy an air toxics metals monitor in the industrial area in northeast Portland, near the Cully neighborhood, as an immediate step. The area was identified as one where the elevated metal concentrations in moss will likely warrant air monitoring.

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