DEQ investigating 'potential health risks' of high levels of ars - KPTV - FOX 12

DEQ investigating 'potential health risks' of high levels of arsenic, cadmium in SE Portland

Posted: Updated: Feb 03, 2016 06:05 PM

Multiple agencies are working to determine the "potential health risks" from exposure to high levels of cadmium and arsenic found in southeast Portland.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality reported Wednesday that preliminary air quality monitoring data shows high levels of those metals near Southeast 22nd Avenue and Powell Boulevard.

DEQ officials told FOX 12 the testing began last Fall when they partnered with forestry experts to test heavy metals in moss.  

They took samples from the area around SE 22nd and Powell and when the results came in a couple weeks ago, they say they found very high levels of arsenic and cadmium in both the moss and the air.  

Officials say they’re confident it’s all coming from Bullseye Glass Company on SE 21st.  

"The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, the Oregon Health Authority and Multnomah County Health Department are working together to determine the significance to public health and how to communicate the potential risk to affected people. So far, data shows that these metals are at levels above short- and long-term health benchmarks," according to a DEQ release.

The Oregon Health Authority reports that health effects from exposure to arsenic and cadmium depend on how much a person is exposed and for how long.

The agencies involved in the investigation plan to produce maps that will outline the potentially affected areas.

"The agencies will be issuing regular updates on this rapidly evolving situation," a DEQ release stated Wednesday.

Cleveland High School, and Winterhaven K-8 are both close to the facility. Portland Public Schools says they are still reviewing all of the information, and contacting the Oregon Health Authority for more information. 

"I'm shocked and I'm surprised and all of the emotions that go along with finding out the air we are all breathing is potentially toxic," said Winterhaven Parent Marisha Childs. 

Fred Meyer Corporate offices are also behind the glass facility.  Administrators there tell FOX 12 they're now checking to make sure their HVAC systems are working properly. 

Their property also includes the CCLC Day Care Center. 

"That's the daycare that my sons at," said parent Shawn Ingersoll.  "I know they're having the HVAC tested, and they're not letting children go outside, but it is concerning."

"Our biggest concern is our son and his health and making sure he is safe.  It's hard as a parent, you know, you can only do so much and if something happens you feel responsible. I guess we're relying on public officials to do their job, and tell us if something is wrong." 

FOX 12 has requested a statement from managers statement with Bullseye Glass Company, but so far, we have yet to hear back from them. 

We're told DEQ officials are waiting on more testing before passing their final data onto the health department, who will alert the public if precautions need to be taken.

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