SE Portland soil test confirms high levels of cadmium, arsenic - KPTV - FOX 12

SE Portland soil test confirms high levels of cadmium, arsenic

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After the first public hearing to discuss abnormally high levels of cadmium and arsenic around a southeast Portland glass factory, results of the first soil tests in the area are coming back, also suggesting contamination in the ground.

Dr. Linda George, an atmospheric chemist at Portland State University, solicited soil samples from the community, and said she was contacted by a geologist working in the area who shared the results form a recent test.

“Those samples show pretty elevated levels of both arsenic and cadmium, especially arsenic.  Arsenic levels were kind of disturbing,” said George.

George, who specializes in urban air pollution, said arsenic levels in the sample were roughly 20 times the risk-based level set by the Department of Environmental Quality.  Cadmium came back at two to three times the risk based level.

“We’re getting a bunch of different data from air sampling, the moss sampling, soil sampling.  It’s all pointing to a problem,” said George.
Both cadmium and arsenic are listed by the EPA as known carcinogens.  The DEQ has identified Bullseye Glass as the likely source of the contamination.

Michael DeVito and Paulette Marchand live about six blocks from the factory, and have raised two children in the neighborhood.

“I’ve been gardening for 20 years in the neighborhood and I’m worried about the soil, about the health of my children, who’ve lived their whole lives in this neighborhood and eat from our garden and breathe the air,” said DeVito.

The DEQ is currently drafting a plan that will spell out how the agency plans to monitor toxics in the area in the near future. 

The agency is also planning a follow-up meeting with the community.

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