Oregon health officials are warning of unhealthy levels of heavy metals in Southeast Portland’s air. They found high levels of cadmium and arsenic at a monitoring station near SE Powell Boulevard and SE 22nd Avenue.
David Monro with the state Department of Environmental Quality said his agency has been studying the correlation between metals in the air and metals found in moss.
It’s an ongoing study DEQ is doing with the U.S. Forest Service, Monro said. When the agencies found higher-than-expected levels of arsenic and cadmium in Portland, they decided to publish some of their results early.
“There’s a lot of information right now that we don’t have, but we have enough information to know that we have levels of metals in the air that are of concern, and we wanted to start getting that information out to people,” Monro said.
Exposure to heavy metals like arsenic and cadmium can increase cancer risks and damage kidneys, lungs and bones.
Advocacy group Neighbors for Clean Air is connecting the discovery to a possible cancer cluster in Southeast Portland.