Toxics-Free Environments


2019 Legislative Wrap Up

Oregon’s 2019 legislative session proved to be the most divisive in recent memory, with a walkout by Senate Republicans preventing a vote on our major priority–Clean Energy Jobs. Despite this setback, Oregon Environmental Council made strides to protect the health of Oregonians and our environment. Here’s a short recap of our progress.

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Navigating Our Way Towards A Sustainable Plastics Future

—Belinda McFadgen, for OECWhen Victor Vescovo was about to dive into the deepest part of the world’s oceans, he was probably not expecting any plastic to beat him to it. However, deep down in the Pacific Ocean there exists the Mariana Trench, where Victor spotted a plastic bag and several sweet wrappersfloating almost 7 miles below sea level.Perhaps this should come as no surprise. While humans produce approximately 78 million tons of plastic per year (see infographic below), and an alarming 86% of this ends its life as non-recycled plastic waste.The ...

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OHA Making Smart Moves on Toxic Toys Rules

As we've mentioned in previous blog posts, Oregon is in the midst of an important process to establish key regulations related to toxic ingredients in products made for kids.The third and most recent meeting of the Toxic Free Kids Act Rules Advisory Committee yielded important information. We've been waiting to see how the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) would propose to evaluate the hazard of different chemicals used in kids’ products. This decision is critical because it will help prevent manufacturers from substituting a toxic chemical on Oregon's regulatory list ...

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Oregon House Votes to Curb Diesel Pollution

Old dirty diesel engines may soon be on their way out SALEM -- Diesel exhaust from heavy-duty engines is one of Oregon’s biggest air toxic problems and can be solved by replacing old polluting engines with newer diesel engines or with trucks and equipment that run on cleaner fuels like electricity. In a 44 to 15 vote in favor of HB 2007, the Oregon House has chosen to accelerate this critical transition.“We have known about diesel’s pernicious impacts on human health for decades,” said Morgan Gratz-Weiser, Legislative Director of Oregon Environmental Council. ...

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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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