Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal and Neighbors for Clean Air (NCA) invite community members to learn about diesel emissions, legacy pollution, heat islands and what decisions will best meet our community’s air quality and climate goals.
The event at Parkrose Middle School on Saturday, Nov. 5 will feature an interactive diesel mapping tool that will help identify the exposure to diesel emissions that residents experience in Northeast Portland and throughout Multnomah County.
The tool is expected to help further understand diesel levels in Argay Terrace where earlier this year, ProLogis, an owner and developer of industrial real estate, applied for a permit with the city of Portland to construct a large freight warehouse at the site of a former Kmart on Northeast 122nd. Truck emissions from the facility are expected to further impact air quality in residential areas in the Parkrose and Argay Terrace neighborhood.
A new diesel emissions study from the Department of Environmental Quality and Portland State University show current modeled levels of diesel particulate matter in Argay Terrace are 350% above the Oregon Ambient Benchmark Concentration, the level above which the state has determined exposure causes excess risk of cancer.
Neighbors, who already experience higher rates of COPD and coronary heart disease than other County residents, are concerned how the truck traffic will affect the community's air quality and livability. Commissioner Jayapal has focused on poor air quality as a major environmental justice issue in her district, and is working with a small dedicated coalition to address it.
“We think of the Pacific Northwest as being a very clean, green environment, and yet there are neighborhoods in Multnomah County that experience very poor air quality, and those communities have more Black, Indigenous and people of color living in them,’’ Commissioner Jayapal said. “Air quality is an environmental and racial justice issue, and needs to be treated as such. I am committed to working with the community to uplift environmental justice and advance policies that will allow all our residents to breathe clean air.”
The diesel emissions mapping tool was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is being developed by Portland State University Urban Studies and Planning, Department of Environmental Quality, and Neighbors for Clean Air. As part of the project, Neighbors for Clean Air is conducting technical assistance and long-term community engagement. There currently aren’t laws to provide stronger regulations from warehouse-related emissions, but the diesel mapping toolkit provides valuable data on who is experiencing the worst air in Portland.
“Distribution centers pose a particularly hazardous risk to communities from an air pollution standpoint,” said Mary Peveto, Executive Director of Neighbors for Clean Air. “The emissions associated with large trucks that come and go, and idle, contribute to making breathing the air four and a half times more likely to cause cancer. And the irony is, while being significant sources of air pollution, a distribution center, and other hubs of diesel engine activity like construction sites and railyards, are completely exempt from regulations that control air emissions in our state.“
The event will be held in person at Parkrose Middle School Media Center, 11800 NE Shaver St. in Portland from 10:00 - 11:30 a.m. on Saturday Nov. 5. Additional information - including registration – can be found at https://bit.ly/3SxQemX.