In going through the tables on pp. B-4 through B-12 of the 2018 Oregon Air Toxics Monitoring Summary, released February 2020, a few things pop out to me as an environmental activist and a breather living near the Owens-Brockway facility.
1: The number of N/A %NDs is very high, and so not useful for many VOC’s and a number of metals. %NDs should be below 80%, and if they are above that percentage then the samples are lower than what could be measured. Yet even with a ‘high’ %ND of 96%, Chromium-6 shows a maximum reading of .0842 (which is higher than any other monitor.)
2: There are quite a few compounds that read a maximum level of a higher concentration from the Cully site (Helensview) than from other sites. There are also some compounds that are higher at other sites (e.g. Xyrene at the SE 45th site.) The large amount of measurable compounds in the Cully airshed, that exceed other testing sites, creates a vile ‘soup’ of different compounds that may interact with each other, and may also create other negative health effects for the human body as a mixture (synergistic effects.)
3: The reading for lead shows a higher rate than at the NATT’s trend sites, and therefore is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately since any amount of lead is dangerous.
4: The arsenic levels are very high and may be the result of Owens-Brockway adding raw materials, like sand, into the cuttle mixture to achieve uniformity.
While the information below is a bit frightening, it is meant to illustrate the types of dangerous compounds that are routinely sampled in the local airshed. There are so many pollutants around us, some are natural and have always been here, although they may have been hidden underground or in rocks. But the industrial pursuit for efficient production and increased profit has added thousands of under-regulated and poorly understood synthetic chemicals into the mix.
Metals, mined and then introduced into industrial processes, do not go away, not through incineration nor chemical degradation. They can settle on the ground and sink into watersheds, and they also can be taken up in plant leaves, fruits and vegetables and bio-accumulate, fixing themselves in our bodies.
VOC’s will disperse with the airstream and most eventually breakdown. Many are extremely toxic from large airborne toxic events and some are recognized as cancer causing carcinogens. While longterm human exposure from many VOC’s has not been researched enough, CAAT surmises that in the least VOC’s are respiratory irritants, causing headaches, nosebleeds, and dizziness, and probably have effects on our emotional health as well.
As PubChem states: ”Our environment is contaminated with a diverse array of chemicals; one of which is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). While some PAHs are potent by nature, others undergo interactions such as additivity, synergism, antagonism or potentiation to manifest their toxicity.”
Carbonyls are VOC’s that share some similarities with PAH’s … but I really do not understand the chemical differentiation.
These metals are of concern to the people in the Cully and other local neighborhoods. They register at higher levels compared to other testing sites:
Arsenic (developmental toxin)
Chromium (carcinogen; developmental toxin; female/male reproductive toxin)
Nickel (carcinogen; probable for developmental toxin; F/M reproductive toxin)
These VOCs are of concern to the people in the Cully and other local neighborhoods. Most of these register below danger levels, however, they are part of the recipe for the vile ‘soup’:
High compared to other testing sites:
1,2 Dimethylbenzene (used in many industrial processes, one form being xylene, can cause headaches and depression) (the SE 45th site has some crazy maximums)
1,3 Butadiene (carcinogen; developmental toxin; female/male reproductive toxin)
2-Butanone (MEK) (respiratory irritant)
Acetone (developmental toxin; male reproductive toxin)
Acrylonitrile (carcinogen) (high numbers at other test sites but Cully has 100% ND which is mighty strange)
Benzene (carcinogen; developmental toxin; female/male reproductive toxin)
Carbon disulfide (carcinogen; developmental toxin; F/M reproductive toxin)
Carbon tetrachloride (carcinogen)
Ethylbenzene (carcinogen) (the SE 45th site has a high maximum)
Toluene (developmental toxin)
Trichlorotrifluoroethane (a CFC that destroys the UV protective ozone layer)
These PAH’s are of concern to the people in the Cully and other local neighborhoods. Most of these register below danger levels, however, they are part of the vile ‘soup’:
Acenaphthene (carcinogen; respiratory irritant)
Dibenzofuran (carcinogen if in polychlorinated form)
Fluoranthene (potential carcinogen, scary synergistics)
Napthalene (irritant; potential carcinogen, mothball odor)
There is a lot of data in these tables, and the DEQ did well to set up these monitors. What we, as residents, decide to do with the information and data is up to us. DEQ will continue to monitor, and to permit polluters, as is required under the law, but only the local politicians can make the changes necessary to protect you from industrial polluters and the vile ‘soup’ that they create.
Call them up and tell them about your concerns:
Governor Kate Brown: 503-378-4582;
Speaker Tina Kotek Capitol Phone: 503-986-1200, District Phone: 503-286-0558:
Senator Michael Dembrow Capitol Phone: 503-986-1723;
Representative Barbara Smith Warner Capitol Phone: 503-986-1445;
Representative Tawna Sanchez Capitol Phone: 503-986-1443;
Senator Lew Frederick Capitol Phone: 503-986-1722;
DEQ Complaint Line 1-888-997-7888
Most of the health effects info comes from
The Prop. 65 list/OEHHA: https://oehha.ca.gov/proposition-65/proposition-65-list/
or, PubChem: https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov