Government agencies announced Wednesday that the health risk around Portland glass manufacturers is low.
The DEQ said Wednesday that it took 67 soil samples from the area around Bullseye Glass in southeast Portland. Samples were taken from a Fred Meyer parking lot, a day care center and Powell Park.
The samples were tested for arsenic, cadmium, chromium, lead and several other elements.
They found that most heavy metals were at background levels. But there were a few samples that showed elevated levels.
Lynne Saxton, the director of the Oregon Health Authority said overall, the findings are encouraging.
“We’re not seeing evidence of health problems caused by metal emissions,” Saxton said.
Authorities announced that it’s now okay to eat produce grown in backyards again, although they did recommend gardeners wash their produce and their hands.
The state has also been collecting results from anyone tested for cadmium. Out of 247 tests, it found seven people in Multnomah County with detectable levels.
Two were children, and three had levels that require some kind of clinical follow up.
There can be several reasons a person might have high cadmium levels, other than pollution. For example, if they smoke or engage in a hobby associated with cadmium.
The Oregon Health Authority also reviewed rates of lung and bladder cancers — the two kinds of cancer associated with cadmium and arsenic exposure.
The agency found that the incidence of those diseases was no higher than expected near Bullseye and Uroburos glass.
It’s good news. But so far the testing has focused on the soil.
Results from air sampling are expected next week.
Although the manufacturers have suspended their use of the arsenic, cadmium and chromium used to color glass, some residents might be skeptical of these results. Authorities at the meeting said they’ll make an effort to get information out more quickly. They’re also sending concerned people to a new webpage.
Saxton said this issue has opened the doors to what she called “long overdue changes.”
The DEQ is launching a new rule-making process to move Oregon’s system closer to those in Washington and California, which better account for public health risks.