05 03 2016
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(Portland, Ore.) April 27, 2016 —Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions announced it will partner with the City of Portland and Multnomah County to conduct an in-depth look at heavy metals in Portland metro neighborhoods. This unprecedented research will include more than 600 samples for metals in air, soil, and from other surfaces over the next two years.

Linda George, professor of Environmental Studies and Management and Fellow of the PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS), will lead the research, which will be funded by $62,500 from ISS, with matching funds of $31,250 from the City of Portland and $31,250 from Multnomah County.

The funding will purchase specialized X-Ray fluorescence analysis equipment for the project. George, along with faculty colleagues and students at PSU, will work with community groups and local, state, and federal agencies to set up six different research sites of approximately 1-square-mile each across the Portland metro area to sample for metals. Results will help inform policy makers, public health agencies, and concerned neighbors about toxic metals air pollution.  

“The quality of the air we breathe is critical for all Portlanders,” said Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick, who sponsored the appropriation request for City funding. “PSU’s research will provide the kind of real-time, neighborhood-level analysis that is important for policymakers to consider as we move forward with future decisions.”

The research project was prompted by recent concerns stemming from reports of elevated levels of heavy metals in the Portland metro area.

“Current air quality data from PSU will be vital to our public health agencies,” said Deborah Kafoury, Multnomah County Chair. “The county is pleased to be able to partner with the Institute for Sustainable Solutions to help address our residents’ concerns about our air quality.”

Initial results of the study will be available in early 2017 and will include maps.

“Providing this kind of policy-relevant research is exactly the right role for PSU, an institution dedicated to serving its community,” said Robert Liberty, director of the PSU Institute for Sustainable Solutions. “I’m pleased that ISS has the means to react quickly and that our partners at the City of Portland and Multnomah County were able to join us in making this investment in our understanding of urban air quality.”

More information about the project is available online at pdx.edu/sustainability/urban-air

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