State releases draft framework for new health-based air toxics standards

Cleaner Air Oregon News

March 21, 2017

Media contacts:
Jennifer Flynt, DEQ, 503-229-6585,
Robb Cowie, OHA, 503-421-7684,

State releases draft framework for new health-based air toxics standards

Draft CAO Framework 3-21-2017

CAO Framework Letter 3-21-2017

Agencies seek public input on Cleaner Air Oregon program to protect public health, environment

PORTLAND, OR––State officials today released a set of proposed options––or framework––for revamping industrial air toxics regulations in Oregon. The draft framework outlines key decisions that will shape the state’s proposed rules for Cleaner Air Oregon––a program designed to protect the health of neighbors living near industrial facilities.

Washington, California and numerous other states have already adopted regulations for air emissions from industrial facilities that consider local health risk.

The draft framework was developed with extensive public input at four regional forums held across the state and discussions with technical experts and environmental, business, community and public health leaders.

Following review and revisions from the Cleaner Air Oregon Rules Advisory Committee, the proposed framework will be used to draft new regulations, which will be released for public comment later this summer.

Governor launches Cleaner Air Oregon to address gaps in current state rules

The Cleaner Air Oregon regulatory overhaul was launched in April, 2016 by Governor Kate Brown. Governor Brown kick-started the reform effort after communities in different parts of the state (including The Dalles and Portland) voiced concerns about industrial air toxics. The Governor said, “Clean air is fundamental to good health. I am deeply concerned that federal and state air quality programs do not directly consider public health in regulating certain classes of industrial air emissions. This must change.”

In late May, the Governor ordered state officials to execute a cease-and-desist order to temporarily stop production at a Portland art glass manufacturer, after children at a nearby daycare were exposed to potentially harmful levels of airborne lead. By September of 2016, state action in that case reduced hazardous air toxics by 98 percent in surrounding neighborhoods. However, the incident highlighted continuing gaps in current federal and state air quality rules and underscored the need for regulatory reform.

State leaders listen to experts, community and business leaders to develop a health-based standard for Oregon’s air quality regulations

The draft Cleaner Air Oregon framework was developed by staff from the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). It lays the groundwork for changes to existing state air quality permitting and enforcement rules. Under the proposed framework, these rules would be based on health standards.

DEQ director Richard Whitman said, “The draft Cleaner Air Oregon framework brings us a step nearer to closing the regulatory gaps that can expose Oregonians to harmful levels of industrial air toxics. The draft framework identifies key policy questions that need to be considered, how those questions have been answered in other states with health-based standards, and where new approaches may be appropriate that build on Oregon’s reputation for innovation.”

OHA director Lynne Saxton said: “This proposed framework puts health at the center of Oregon’s air toxics regulations. We developed these concepts based on what science tells us about the risks high levels of air toxics can pose to human health. We listened to experts from other states and what Oregonians told us they value: healthy families, cleaner air and thriving local economies. We look forward to hearing more input as we draft the new rules.”

The proposed Cleaner Air Oregon framework:

  • Applies to new, modified and existing facilities: As in most other states, the Cleaner Air Oregon regulations would apply to new and existing facilities, and any modifications current facilities may make.
  • Sets a limit on what the overall level of health risk is allowable from industrial air toxic emissions from a facility. The framework proposes to set an acceptable risk level for entire industrial facilities and their equipment. This proposal is similar to rules in Washington, California, New Jersey and other states.
  • Sets limits on the total levels of health risk in areas where people are exposed to emissions from many nearby facilities. These limits are intended to protect the most vulnerable: children, pregnant women, seniors and those with chronic illness––and communities with high rates of exposure in the past, including people with low income and communities of color. The proposed cumulative risk limits would put Oregon ahead of most other states.

Director Whitman said, “We know Oregon businesses want to be good neighbors and they are seeking clear, practical and consistent regulations that enable them to successfully compete in a global economy. While the Cleaner Air Oregon rules are an important step forward, we do not believe these rules will require wholesale changes in any of Oregon’s vital urban and rural industries that would disrupt our communities or our economy.”

Cleaner Air Oregon rules to be based on continuing public input

The draft Cleaner Air Oregon framework was informed by input from technical teams and the Cleaner Air Oregon Advisory Committee. The proposed framework will be presented to the Cleaner Air Oregon Advisory Committee on April 4, 2017.

Meeting 4 – April 4, 2017, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
418 A Street
Springfield, OR 97477
Tuesday, April 4, 2017, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Meeting Call-In Number: 888-278-0296 | Participant Code: 8040259
Webinar link:

For more information


Press Release


Cleaner Air Oregon Framework Fact Sheet pdf