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Oregon DEQ releases 2022 Air Toxics Summary

Today, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality released its 2022 Air Toxics Summary, which provides data on ambient air monitored in 10 locations across the state, including Bend, Corvallis, Eugene, La Grande, Medford and the Portland-metro area. The report measures air toxics where people live, work and play so DEQ and local communities can make better informed decisions on how to track and reduce pollution and protect public health.

For the 2022 Summary, DEQ monitored up to 106 different air toxics at each the following 10 locations:

  • 8th & Emerson (Bend)
  • Amazon Park (Eugene) – from Jan. 22 – June 22, 2022*
  • Cully Helensview School (Portland-metro)
  • Highway 99 (Eugene)
  • Hillsboro Hare Field (Portland-metro)
  • Portland NATTS site/Humboldt School (Portland-metro)
  • La Grande NATTS site/N. Hall St. & E. North Ave. (La Grande)
  • Park & Goodnight (Corvallis) – from April 22, 2021 – July 23, 2022*
  • Welch & Jackson Streets (Medford)
  • Tualatin Bradbury Court (Portland-metro)

*Rotating sites. For details, see sections on individual locations in 2022 Air Toxics Summary.

Oregon sets targets to reduce air toxics in ambient air. The goal is to reduce levels of each pollutant down to be equal to one or less than the ambient benchmark concentration. The data and statistics from monitoring sites inform progress toward these targets.

The ambient benchmark concentrations are designed to protect the health of the most sensitive individuals in communities and serve as clean air targets. They are not regulatory standards. Industry regulation falls under EPA’s National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants Program and air quality permits.

For air toxics with the potential to increase cancer risk, DEQ sets Ambient Benchmark Concentrations at levels that would not pose more than one-in-a-million excess lifetime cancer risk if a person breathed air at that level every day for an entire lifetime. For air toxics that have the potential to cause health effects other than cancer, DEQ sets ABCs at concentrations that would not be expected to harm anyone’s health even if they breathed that air every day for a lifetime.

Key results for the 2022 Air Toxics Summary include the following:

  • Most air toxics measured in 2022 were found to be below the national average for that toxic.
  • Formaldehyde measured above its ABCs and was higher than the national average at most monitoring locations. This shows its presence is widespread and not unique to individual communities, even though levels vary among sites. EPA’s website hosts the Health Effects Notebook for Hazardous Air Pollutants for more information.
  • The Amazon Park location in Eugene had the lowest levels of air toxics among the 10 locations.
  • The 8th & Emerson location in Bend had the highest levels of air toxics among the 10 locations.
  • Long-term trends for air toxics in the Portland-metro area have decreased.
  • Long-term trends for air toxics in La Grande Air have shown little change.
  • No air toxics exceeded their short-term (24-hour) reference values.

“This report allows DEQ to monitor and analyze air toxics in a variety of locations across Oregon,” said Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division Administrator Lori Pillsbury. “We’re able to collect an enormous amount of data and can gain insights into air quality by comparing results from the different sites. We then pass this valuable information on to our air quality planners and analysts at headquarters and in the regions.”

Results from the Air Toxics Summary are used to help inform DEQ’s many air quality programs, such as:

Last year, DEQ's “Air, Land & Water” blog posted an article titled "Oregon DEQ releases 2019 – 2021 Air Toxics Summary Report". That piece and the related report provide historical context to the 2022 to the 2022 Summary. They share similar analyses of and explanations for air toxics monitoring.

To view the report, please go to Oregon DEQ’s Air Toxics Monitoring web page.

Analysis of air toxics data collected in 2023 is currently underway.

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About The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality protects human health and the environment by controlling air and water pollution, reducing the impacts of manufactured products and cleaning up contaminated properties. DEQ engages the public in decision-making and helps communities solve problems in ways that are economically and environmentally sustainable.


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