Toxics-Free Environments


OEC Battles Chemical Industry Over Safer Kids’ Products

In 2015, Oregon Environmental Council championed the Toxic Free Kids Act. The law is designed to make children’s products safer by eliminating toxic chemicals scientifically linked to health impacts. Now, this landmark protection for kids and consumers is nearing a critical crossroads.In a recent meeting with state agencies, industry trade groups launched another attack on the law. They want to be able to continue using toxic chemicals without proving their products are safe.On top of that, some manufacturers want Oregon taxpayers to foot the bill when they ...

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Understanding air quality through community-based art

Air pollution is “almost like an invisible beast,” says Daniel Granias, an art teacher with the Right Brain Initiative.He has been working with the Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) and Oregon Environmental Council to increase awareness of air quality issues in the Jade District and foster engagement around the issue. The Jade District is a hotspot for air pollution due to its proximity to major highways and traffic.Daniel says that, in speaking with youth and public health groups about air pollution: “It’s something they all know is real, ...

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Plastic Un-fantastic

The toxic effects of plastics pollution on human health —Belinda McFadgen, for OECIn early March of 2019, a Cuvier’s beaked whale washed up dead in the Philippines. The whale had died of gastric shock, brought on by the 88 lbs. of plastic bags found in its stomach.The sheer volume of plastic waste and its brutal impact on marine wildlife is shocking. But just as disturbing is the emerging story of how the toxicity of plastic pollution is affecting human health and the health of the planet as a whole. A growing understanding of toxic effects More than twenty ...

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Who cares about diesel pollution?

Dozens of Oregonians turned out to testify on the dirty diesel bill (HB 2007) in March. The crowd prompted  lawmakers to extend the public hearing over two days. The bill’s sponsors and other champions made it clear: old engines pose a big health threat, and it’s time to get serious about replacing them with far cleaner solutions.Legislators also heard from people arguing against a deadline to retire old, dirty engines.The health, justice and environmental arguments for cutting diesel pollution are impossible to ignore—but will legislators agree that ...

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Diesel pollution and health

Diesel exhaust is costing Oregon billions of dollars each year in health care costs, lost lives and missed work and school. “In pediatrics, we want to prevent kids from getting sick. We are asking parents to take individual action. But there’s nothing we can do to get them to prevent exposing their kids to air pollution. It’s only good public policy that can help protect kids in that way.” — Dr. Paul Lewis, MD, MPH; Tri-County Health Officer Diesel exhaust consists of particles and gases including 44 toxic substances. At least 80% of diesel exhaust is ...

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Diesel and air quality

Why do we need to act now to reduce diesel pollution from heavy-duty engines? Because it's not only one of Oregon's biggest air quality problems—it contributes to all of them.  According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality's 2017 Air Quality annual report, Oregon's "air pollutants of greatest concern" are:Ground-level ozone (smog):  Diesel engines are responsible for 49% of NOx (a smog-forming pollutant) from transportation. Heavy duty vehicles are the largest source of NOx emissions in Oregon. Ozone is created when NOx and VOC pollutants meet ...

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It’s time to pass this good idea: household hazardous waste stewardship

In 2017, the Oregon Poison Center received 3,478 phone calls from people accidentally exposed to spills, leaks, or other accidental exposure to household products.¹ Today, we have the opportunity to advocate for a bill that would protect against these incidents--and protect our environment--by ensuring the proper disposal of hazardous household waste in Oregon.House bill 2772, introduced last month, would establish a statewide stewardship program for household products that are flammable, corrosive or toxic--such as roach spray, oven cleaner, paint stripper and more. ...

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New report: Oregon fails on diesel

This month, Oregon’s cross-agency team of experts made it very clear: None of our current efforts to reduce diesel pollution have worked, or will work, to meet our state’s goals for protecting human and environmental health. "Diesel emissions impacts to human health and the environment are not being adequately addressed by the DEQ [Department of Environmental Quality] or through Toxics Reduction Strategy planning.” This matter-of-fact statement, and details about Oregon’s diesel problem, are part of a newly updated toxics reduction strategy presented to the ...

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Latinos Unidos Siempre: The power to create change

To Sandra Hernández- Lomelí, the future of environmental protection lies in empowering people to advocate for themselves.For too long, the Latinx community in Oregon has been disconnected from the environmental community, she explains. “I think there are a lot of people who would love to work on these issues. It’s about providing access.”Sandra is program director at Latinos Unidos Siempre (LUS), founded in 1996 by youth in Salem to defend immigrant rights. Even deeper than any advocacy issue is the organization’s dedication to youth and their families....

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Cleaner air and construction for Portland

Today, Portland adopted “clean air construction standards,” a policy that will bring an end to the dirtiest diesel construction equipment on city-funded projects. They’ll start by restricting idling of heavy-duty diesel engines on construction sites, and move on to require cleaner engines. What great news for everyone who breathes in Portland! It’s a big deal because 65% of the toxic diesel pollution in the Portland area comes not from trucks, but from non-road engines: construction equipment like backhoes, excavators and lifts. Diesel is one of Oregon’s worst ...

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