116 Oregon schools were found to be in the worst 10% of US toxic industrial air pollution hot spots. In addition, higher asthma rates were documented at schools situated closer to large industrial sources of air pollution. In Portland, census tracts with large industrial polluters nearby were found to have the greatest cancer risk due to toxic air emissions.
HB 3492 expands the existing Toxic Use Reduction Program to include Hazardous Air Pollutants. This program, established in the 1990’s as the first of its kind in the nation, has a proven track record of reducing thousands of pounds of unnecessary toxics in the workplace and in the waste generated by industrial activity. Implementation of plans are voluntary, ensuring they benefit businesses, through reduced costs, and healthier work environments for employees. Adding air toxics, a significant risk to public health, is a common sense improvement to current rules.
WHY FOCUS ON INDUSTRIAL AIR POLLUTION?
Our oldest and dirtiest facilities still receive permits to emit the same level of emissions they did in the 1970’s. No facility in Oregon has a health-based emissions limit for the hazardous air pollutants it emits. We know that communities that live next to large sources are at greater risk of asthma and even cancer. It is time to correct this ridiculous oversight and include Hazardous Air Pollutants in Oregon's program to reduce industrial hazardous waste.
We need to put protecting our children’s health from environmental toxics front and center in our regulations. HB 3492 asks the state to treat hazardous air pollutants like other toxic waste from industry. It provides for the technical assistance to the largest sources of the most dangerous air toxics to guide them toward developing continuous improvement plans to protect communities and their workers from unnecessary toxic air emissions.