Glossary of Stink

Acceptable Risk: The tendency, sanctioned by our political leadership, for the allowance of “x” number of cancer cases, or other life threatening effects, among a designated population to be acceptable for industrial production. This nefarious legal actuary principle basically states that your life, and health, are not worth more than a certain amount of asphalt, or plastic foam, or other junk items. As industrial polluters create products, toxin releases are justified by what they term a ‘low acceptable risk’, but the numbers and cancer cases are there and are real. Often the ‘designated population’ are marginalized peoples, and this is one of the main examples of how environmental racism is conducted with the approval of elected officials and regulatory agencies.

Benzene: Carcinogen. Pollutant in oil, and used in many chemical processes for consumer products. Blood disorders, bone marrow damage, immune disorders, headaches, mutagenic effects in pregnant women, death are some of the predictable results of exposure.

HAP: Hazardous Air Pollutant: The bureaucratic designation for life-threatening chemicals and carcinogens released into our air daily by Oregon DEQ permitted companies.

Heavy Metals: Metal contaminants listed on the Periodic Table. Some, like arsenic, have a naturally high level in our Willamette Valley soil. Others, like lead and mercury, are primarily from industrial processes. Some, like iron, can be relatively benign, and others, like cadmium, can cause chronic developmental disabilities in children. Monitoring is done using a filtering device.

H2S: Hydrogen Sulfide: Smells like rotten eggs, comes from use of petrochemicals. A broad-spectrum poison, affecting numerous bodily systems. The smell comes from the sulfur, and many sulfur compounds have a noxious odor.

H2SO4: Sulfuric Acid: Acid Rain: A highly corrosive acid formed from SO2 and water vapor, so making a common pollutant when SO2 is produced (by coal or oil combustion.)  H2SO4 can cause severe burns and increases likelihood of lung cancers. H2SO4 needs to be carefully contained.

Mutagen: An agent, or contaminant, that causes genetic mutations. Many, but not all, industrial pollutants are mutagenic. Synergistic effects may create mutagenic effects.

Oregon DEQ: The Department of Environmental Quality is an industry controlled advocate for pollution and toxin release. While many individual employees of DEQ are fine and caring individuals, the DEQ has been hamstrung by ALEC inspired budget cuts and impositions to not impose regulatory protections on industrial point source polluters. Our present legislators are quite often a large part of this corruption and subsequent carcinogen and toxin release. It is more than obvious that industrial polluters flout the law and dump toxins and carcinogens into our local environment. Breaking laws and paying a modest penalty are all just part of the business. Who cares if the neighbors in the community get cancer?

PAH: Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons: Probable carcinogens. The bureaucratic obfuscation and merging of over 100 toxic compounds from oil and gas combustion with BBQ smoke and charred meat. The first 100 toxic compounds are a group of industrial pollutants that are released daily by permitted industries and the second is the much less frequent BBQ.

Permit: An allowance by the local, regional or Federal government regulatory agency for a company to release industrial an other toxins into the environment supposedly based on risk assessment. Permits need to renewed after a specified period of time. From an agency perspective, as long as the company pays a fee and fills out the paperwork correctly the agency is legally obligated to issue a permit. That is the obligation, to pay the fee and fill out the paperwork correctly. Once permitted the company is allowed to pollute, and in Oregon’s case, to self-report any violations or discrepancies of allowable pollutant releases.

PM: Particulate Matter: particles resulting from the combustion of petrochemicals such as diesel. You can see it as soot from truck exhaust pipes. A pollutant from many industrial processes, long-distance trucks, and trains. Usually designated by size in microns, PM2.5 or PM10. This pollutant leads to respiratory distress, compromised blood chemistry which may lead to heart attacks, and increased susceptibility to viral and bacterial pathogens. Known carcinogen.

Scrubber: a filtering device to remove airborne and particulate pollutants from the waste stream. A wet scrubber operates by introducing the dirty gas stream with water or hydrogen peroxide or another liquid. Particulate or gases are collected in the scrubbing liquid. The leftover liquid is hazardous waste. Scrubbers do not remove all pollutants. In fact, scrubbers are limited by type, SO2: ammonia: PM: chlorine; chemical; etc. Porter Yett has one scrubber only, for either sulfur dioxide or hydrogen sulfide, as far as I know.

Self-reporting: The ability, sanctioned by our political leadership, to allow polluting industries to self-monitor and report toxin use and release without any actual monitoring accountability by regulatory agencies.

SO2: Sulfur/Sulphur dioxide: smells like burning matches. Pollutant from coal and oil combustion. Painful breathing, coughing, asthma, skin and nasal irritations. Possible carcinogen. Major greenhouse gas.

Synergistic effects: How toxic pollutants can combine to create more and different health effects than just those from one pollutant alone. Very poorly researched due to monetary cost to DEQ.

TAP: Toxic Air Pollutants: Carcinogenic and mutagenic compounds from industrial processes routinely released into the air by DEQ permitted companies.

Tar Sands: Bitumin: Dilbit: A tar like substance mined in Alberta, Canada or Venezuela. The petrochemical product dilbit is shipped by train from the Alberta Tar Sands, and then trucked into Cully to make asphalt. Dilbit is DILuted BITumin, or bitumen with petrochemical additives to allow it to flow through pipelines. The extraction and refining of Tar Sands oil is one of the worst environmental disasters on the North American continent, and has created a cancer epidemic among the First Nations peoples who live in the Athabasca region. Keystone XL pipeline was supposed to carry dilbit. Most, if not all, of our elected political reps take monetary contributions from Berkshire-Hathaway, the parent corporation of BNSF, the train shipper of this toxic crud. Union Pacific also ships this toxic crud, as well. Ask your rep if they take money for Berkshire-Hathaway!

Temperature Inversion: a Temperature Inversion is a weather related phenomenon where there is a separation above between cold air and warm air. It is difficult under such conditions for the two different air masses to mix, and so the bottom half remains stagnant.  While there is a normal decrease in temperature as one ascends, in an inversion, it is almost like a lid has formed over the city, trapping air and pollutants below. Hazy skies and red sunsets are often indicators of inversions. Clouds may appear stretched out and flat. The opposite of a temperature inversion is an unstable air layer.

Toluene: a VOC with a paint thinner odor. Very toxic. An industrial solvent used in many industries. Symptoms of toluene exposure include: irritation of the eyes and nose; weakness, exhaustion; confusion; dizziness; headache; anxiety, muscle fatigue, insomnia; numbness or tingling of the skin. Toluene exposure may cause liver and kidney damage. Breathing high levels of toluene during pregnancy has been shown to result in children with birth defects and to retard mental abilities and growth. There is evidence that exposure to toluene at work is associated with spontaneous abortion.

VOC: Volatile Organic Compound: A pollutant that evaporates quickly and can be odorless. Benzene and toluene are examples of a VOC. PM10 is not a VOC. VOC’s are a prevalent pollutant from many industrial processes using petrochemicals. Asphalt plants, like Porter Yett, release VOC’s into the air and water table. Many VOCs are carcinogenic and mutagenic. Some last in the water tables for quite a long time and taxpayers are often burdened with the clean-up costs and health-related effects long after the company and it’s owners have folded and walked away.

Charting, monitoring and bettering air quality issues in the Cully neighborhood of NE Portland.