This article was written by the Oregonian Editorial Board for OregonLive:
Portland loves its reputation as a clean-green city, a place where trees scrub the air and rain rinses away the rest — and where every business is zero-emissions and eco-friendly.
There is one problem with this perception: It’s not quite true.
The Portland area has real air-quality challenges, not just with well-known air pollutants such as carbon monoxide but with a host of less familiar air toxics, from benzene to cadmium compounds. Improvement will take years of work, from significant voluntary efforts by individuals and businesses to better air-quality monitoring and more substantive state leadership.
This week, the state Department of Environmental Quality will hold three public meetings on reducing toxic air pollution in the Portland metro area. The meetings key off a DEQ report released this spring that identifies major sources of air toxics and lays out possible solutions.
The report isn’t exactly a stirring call to action: The dozens of people involved in its creation, including activists and industry representatives, freely admit they didn’t meet their goal of creating a 10-year plan, despite two years of meetings and effort. The science is too complex, they said, and the lack of consensus too great.
Still, their work does have value. For starters, it gives some much-needed context to anecdotes about who pollutes and why it matters.
Contrary to common belief, the biggest polluters in the Portland metro area aren’t the corporations with the tallest smokestacks. They’re us. We drive and burn wood in our fireplaces. We remodel our homes and offices; we use lawnmowers and drive motor boats. Even in death, we create air quality issues with our cremains, according to the DEQ report. READ FULL ARTICLE HERE
Photo: Benjamin Brink/The Oregonian