05-20-2018  5:05 am      •     
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NEWS BRIEFS

Raina Croff to Speak at Architectural Heritage Center

'When the Landmarks are Gone: Older African Americans, Place, and Change in N/NE Portland’ describes SHARP Walking Program ...

Portland Playhouse Presents August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ Through June 10

May 20 performance will include discussion on mental health; June 10 performance will be followed by discussion of fatherhood ...

Peggy Houston-Shivers Presents Benefit Concert for Allen Temple CME

Concert to take place May 20 at Maranatha Church ...

Family Friendly Talent Show, May 18

Family Fun Night series continues at Matt Dishman Community Center ...

Oregon State study says it's OK to eat placenta after all

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — First experts said eggs are bad for you, then they say it's OK to eat them. Is red wine good for your heart or will it give you breast cancer?Should you eat your placenta?Conflicting research about diets is nothing new, but applying the question to whether new mothers...

US arrest, raids in Seattle pot probe with China ties

SEATTLE (AP) — U.S. authorities have arrested a Seattle woman, conducted raids and seized thousands of marijuana plants in an investigation into what they say is an international black market marijuana operation financed by Chinese money, a newspaper reported Saturday.Authorities are still...

State sees need to reduce elk damage in the Skagit Valley

MOUNT VERNON, Wash. (AP) — Elk are easy to spot against the green backdrop of the Skagit Valley, where much of the resident North Cascades elk herd that has grown to an estimated 1,600 is found.For farmers in the area — especially those who grow grass for their cattle or to sell to...

Famed mini sub's control room to become future exhibit

BREMERTON, Wash. (AP) — The U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport has a new addition to its archives — the salvaged control room of the legendary, one-of-a-kind Cold War-era miniature submersible NR-1.Adm. Hyman G. Rickover, the father of the nuclear Navy, conceived the idea for the...

OPINION

Golfing While Black Is Not a Crime

Grandview Golf Club asks five Black women to leave for golfing too slow ...

Discovering the Best of Black America in 2018

Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis discusses the DTU Journalism Fellowship & Scholarship Program ...

Will Israel’s Likud Party Ever Respect the Rights of Palestinians?

Bill Fletcher weighs in on the precarious future of the two-state solution between the Israeli government and the Palestinian people ...

The Future of Medicinal Marijuana in Pets

Dr. Jasmine Streeter says CBD-derived products show beneficial therapeutic benefits for pets ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Guess who's coming to Windsor? Royal ceremony weds cultures

BURLINGTON, New Jersey (AP) — With a gospel choir, black cellist and bishop, Oprah, Serena and Idris Elba in the audience and an African-American mother-of-the-bride, Saturday's wedding of Prince Harry to American actress Meghan Markle was a blend of the solemn and the soulful.Guess who's...

A royal wedding bridges the Atlantic and breaks old molds

WINDSOR, England (AP) — The son of British royalty and the daughter of middle-class Americans wed Saturday in a service that reflected Prince Harry's royal heritage, Meghan Markle's biracial roots and the pair's shared commitment to putting a more diverse, modern face on the monarchy.British...

First class for Mississippi school after desegregation deal

CLEVELAND, Miss. (AP) — A small Mississippi Delta town whose rival high schools were combined last year under a desegregation settlement has held its first graduation ceremony.No longer Trojans and Wildcats, they're all Wolves now at Cleveland Central High School, whose seniors collected...

ENTERTAINMENT

Reggie Lucas, who worked with Miles Davis and Madonna, dies

NEW YORK (AP) — Reggie Lucas, the Grammy-winning musician who played with Miles Davis in the 1970s and produced the bulk of Madonna's debut album, has died. He was 65.The performer's daughter, Lisa Lucas, told The Associated Press that her father died from complications with his heart early...

Broadcast networks go for milk-and-cookies comfort this fall

NEW YORK (AP) — If provocative, psyche-jangling shows like "The Handmaid's Tale" are your taste, head directly to streaming or cable. But if you're feeling the urge for milk-and-cookies comfort, broadcast television wants to help.The upcoming TV season will bring more sitcom nostalgia in the...

Met says it has evidence Levine abused or harassed 7 people

NEW YORK (AP) — The Metropolitan Opera said in court documents Friday that it found credible evidence that conductor James Levine engaged in sexually abusive or harassing conduct with seven people that included inappropriate touching and demands for sex acts over a 25-year period.The Met...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Small clubs cross fingers for World Cup windfalls

TORCY, France (AP) — The ideal scenario for the club where Paul Pogba played football as a kid might go...

On time, on target: LeBron, Cavs pound Celtics in Game 3

CLEVELAND (AP) — Before taking the floor, LeBron James stood in the hallway with his teammates outside...

US, China agree to cut American trade deficit

WASHINGTON (AP) — The United States and China have agreed to take measures to "substantially reduce"...

Insect ambassadors: Honeybees buzz on Berlin cathedral

BERLIN (AP) — On the roof of Berlin's cathedral, bees are buzzing.Beekeeper Uwe Marth pulls out a honeycomb...

Love and fire: Text of Michael Curry's royal wedding address

WINDSOR, England (AP) — And now in the name of our loving, liberating and life-giving God, Father, Son and...

Episcopal bishop Curry gives royal wedding an American flair

WINDSOR, England (AP) — Nothing quite captured the trans-Atlantic nature of Saturday's royal wedding as...

By Lisa Loving | The Skanner News

Parents are turning out by the hundreds at public hearings about air toxics in Southeast Portland.

But is that the whole story?

Both the Bullseye Glass and Uroboros Glass companies have stopped using the toxic substances cadmium and arsenic in response to recent reports of neighborhood pollution possibly linked to their operations.

But not only have those chemicals been tracked in Southeast Portland since at least 2009, but arsenic and chromium discharged into the air are among an array of cancer-causing poisons in the air that have been watched in North Portland for more than a decade without any meaningful action by state regulators.

Mary Peveto, founder of Neighbors for Clean Air, has studied these issues in depth — and agitated with the Oregon State Department of Environmental Quality — to come clean with local residents about what’s going on and do something about it. 

“There are other concerning levels in other areas of the city that are more disproportionately representative of communities of color in North Portland,” Peveto says. “Is this really going to be a popularity contest for communities that can assert the most outrage?” 

The Skanner interviewed Peveto about the bigger picture of air pollution and how it impacts Portland families.

The Skanner News: How long have you personally organized around Portland air pollution?

Mary Peveto: I first became alarmed about air toxics in Portland in 2009.  But that was only about my daughter’s school, Chapman Elementary.  I quickly learned that this wasn’t isolated to in my family’s neighborhood in Northwest Portland. 

The same data used for the study published by USA TODAY in 2009 http://content.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/smokestack/index was an analysis that a University of Massachusetts -Amherst research team had done that cross referenced Federal Toxic Release data (FTR), EPA’s Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators (RSEI), and more than 127,000 schools in America.  The big picture was equally alarming. While my school was one of 35 in the Portland metro area which ranked among the worst 5 percent in the nation, no Portland area school ranked better than the bottom 30 percent.

And North Portland schools ranked the worst.

Harriet Tubman school specifically came onto my radar, as my daughter was a student there when it was the all girls leadership academy. So I was in the parent community when the EPA chose Tubman as one of 66 schools in 22 states to monitor the air in response to the USA Today report. The EPA found, among other things, high levels of cadmium.  http://www3.epa.gov/air/sat/HarrietTub.html

This was significant enough to be one of the few things mentioned in the USA Today story that followed EPA’s national monitoring effort.  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/environment/2009-03-01-epa_N.htm

I was already at the time a member of the Oregon DEQ’s Portland Air Toxics SOLUTIONS Advisory Committee (PATSAC). So I also knew that the state had consistently measured high levels of cadmium and arsenic at the air toxics monitoring site at North Roselawn (less than a mile from Tubman) since 2005. 

The DEQ staff told the PATSAC that the agency could not explain where it was coming from, though they considered consulting a phone book for possible sources.  But they hadn’t even done that.

TSN: What kinds of reports are available about that?

MP: So much data

You might ask DEQ to provide you with the ongoing data results of the monitor at North Roselawn.  I helped a women who lived very close to that site get that raw data, because her son was diagnosed with high arsenic exposure. They researched and eliminated the possibility of every source in his environment, testing soil (at home and school), water, foods, household items like rugs.

It was only when they saw the raw results from the DEQ monitor in North Portland that they could see that the levels in his blood (which for 18 months at least they were drawing every month from this 6-year-old boy) correlated with the levels found in the air. Same ups and downs.

This all started because he was diagnosed with neurological and behavior problems severe enough that the school he was attending asked the parents to withdraw him.

TSN: While state officials say they don't really know the source or what's going on, are there other metrics that have indicated the source?

MP: Yes. As it happens, DEQ’s Portland Air Toxics emissions inventory, which is the basis of PATSAC work, only recognized one glass manufacturing facility in the Portland metro area (Orning Cowing in North Portland). The agency completely ignored smaller “colored glass or stained glass” manufacturers.

TSN: Who is affected by this air pollution?

MP: We all are. But poor people and populations of color are affected more. And it isn’t just these metals. In fact Multnomah County has the 4th highest Diesel Particulate emissions of all counties in the nation. And we know that the risk of that is deadly.  And the students of Tubman, perched up above one of I-5’s biggest choke points, are at extreme risk. 

We also know, thanks to Multnomah County Health (2014 Multnomah County Health report on Racial and Ethnic Disparities), that populations of color are exposed more to this most deadly pollution.  In fact African American communities are hit the worst, living predominantly in census tracts with three higher levels of Diesel PM than census tracts with higher or average White populations. Look at the report around page 28, where the county used diesel particulate exposure as a risk indicator for healthy environments.

TSN: Why has this happened?

MP: Why? Why?  I think you have to ask someone else, like regulators and the elected leaders who I have been asking for over six years the same question.

TSN: Over the years what has changed?

MP: The board of directors of my nonprofit Neighbors for Clean Air would say our work has changed things:

  • We have successfully worked to get enforceable pollution reductions from three companies through direct negotiations: ESCO, Intel and Vigor.  These are enforceable because even though we hammered these out through Good Neighbor Agreements, one condition we always insist on is that the company incorporate any emission reduction actions into the state issued permit. This way those become enforceable through state and federal regulators and the community isn’t left to make enforcement happen.
  • In 2013 our work on odor problems like we have in Northwest, and mostly the folks that live up above Swan Island, or in many parts across North Portland, forced the state to finally develop a plan to enforce the nuisance condition that exists in every state permit.
  • While unsuccessful, Neighbors for Clean Air has led four new bills introduced in the state legislature on air quality. So it is impossible for our state leaders to say they were unaware of the problem.
  •  Finally, the real change is that people — large amounts of people — and decision makers are aware we have an air pollution problem in Portland. When we started our work seven years ago, our biggest hurdle was not sounding crazy, because everyone thought the air was so clean. Carbon reductions don’t make the air clean and safe. Fighting our own reputation as the green capitol of the world has been the biggest barrier.

TSN: What else should Skanner readers know about this?

MP: It is critical that leaders don’t try to make this just a short-term, one-time fix to address a crisis in Southeast Portland.

First – there needs to be a huge shift to address the problem in North Portland in a community that too often has not had the risk addressed, and as far as I can tell from my analysis of the data, the only difference is in the makeup of the community. 

There are huge barriers for underserved communities in understanding the risk and mobilizing the effective resources to address it.

Second – equally or more important – no small fixes. Our problem is not glass manufacturing and cadmium/arsenic in Portland. Our problem is a system that allows toxic pollution to put people at risk from all sources.  Diesel particulates kill more people in our state/city than traffic fatalities and homicides COMBINED. It also contributes to many of the chronic social determinants of health: asthma, respiratory problems and heart disease.  And all of those impact communities of color and poor communities more than anyone, and so far no one is talking about that in this current story.

TSN: Mary, what is the bottom line on what the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality should do for families?

MP:  Make public health the priority of air emissions regulations. Period.

         Neighbors for Clean Air has a petition calling for action by the state DEQ on their website at www.whatsinourair.org.

The group is also organizing transportation for local families to a tentatively-scheduled hearing in Salem.

  • The Multnomah County Health Department and Portland Public Schools host a community open house with Oregon DEQ and the Oregon Health Authority at Tubman Middle School on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 5-9 p.m.
  • The Oregon Health Authority’s phone line for residents concerned about the health effects of metals emissions: 971-673-0185, and an email address, .
  • Find out more about the state DEQ investigation into cadmium and arsenic emissions here []. For information from the Oregon Health Authority click here. []. The Multnomah County Health Department’s page is here [].  
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