Portland’s Toxic Air Problem

Portland’s air is dirtier than we thought. A study conducted by researchers at the U.S. Forest Service revealed dangerously high levels of heavy metals in Portland, sparking an investigation into the sources and causing regulators and officials to question why the pollution was left unchecked for so long.

The Oregon Health Authority is offering free soil screenings at a public meeting in Portland next week.

The event comes after concerns about toxic metals in the air.

Whether you’re growing a lettuce in a window box or your whole yard’s been turned over to vegetables, health officials say it’s good to know what’s in the soil.

OHA spokeswoman Julie Sifuentes said people can bring soil samples from anywhere in their yard.

“It could be their garden bed, it could be a children’s play area,” she said. “For a large area [take] five to 10 sort of random spots. If it’s a smaller area, it’d be more like three. And then combine them into a clean container or Ziplock bag.”

Sifuentes said the soil should also be relatively dry.

If it turns out to be contaminated, people can have further tests done and learn how to mitigate heavy metals contamination.

The event runs Oct. 15 at the East Portland Community Center. There will also be free blood tests for lead.