Support Portland Clean Air and Breathe Easier in the Future

By Greg Bourget

Diesel particulate is the worst airborne carcinogen according to State of California risk assessments. In Portland it comes primarily from industrial unfiltered trucks making in-city deliveries. Currently Portland is ranked in the worst 1.3% of counties in the nation for airborne diesel particulate according to the most recent EPA three-year assessment. Airborne diesel particulate affects the Eliot Neighborhood more than most Portland neighborhoods. California banned unfiltered diesel trucks statewide and by 2015 there were virtually none left. Diesel particulate filters remove 90% of diesel particulate emissions. In contrast, three-quarters of the trucks in the three-county Portland area have no filter according to ODOT and DMV records. The in-city stretch of I5, including the part that runs through Eliot neighborhood, has the 24-hour highest truck counts in Portland according to ODOT monitoring studies.

DEQ reported diesel-powered vehicles are only 6% of Oregon vehicles on the road yet emit 60 – 70% of all particulate emissions from all on-road vehicles combined. The State of California reported that currently diesel particulate is still “responsible for about 70% of California’s estimated known cancer risk attributable to toxic air contaminants.” DEQ reported in 2015 that diesel exhaust causes lung and bladder cancer, certain heart attacks and other blood clotting diseases, coronary artery disease, malignant childhood brain tumors, decreased cognitive functioning, increased incidence of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS), acute bronchitis, and asthma. A study by Bishop et al. found diesel particulate causes dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Immediate symptoms include eye and throat irritation, coughing and phlegm, swollen airway, bronchial irritation, nausea, headache, lightheadedness, and fatigue.

Portland Clean Air believes negotiation with unfiltered trucking companies is the solution. The Oregon diesel bill HB 2007 which passed June 30, 2019, was gutted by industry. It allows a ten-year phase-out. California did a seven-year phase-out starting nine years ago! Numerous loopholes allow trucking companies to avoid even that deadline. The Oregon legislature accepts unlimited corporate campaign donations. This is illegal in 45 states. Since we can’t count on the Oregon Legislature, neighbors have been directly negotiating with industrial polluters instead. Since the
Bullseye scandal, eight Portland area industries have installed a smokestack scrubber at a cost of $70 K to $20 M due solely to
negotiations with neighbors.

Judging by model year, XPO Logistics has 8,604 unfiltered trucks – by far the largest unfiltered truck fleet in the Portland area. XPO Logistics, Consolidated Freightways, and USF Reddaway combined have 12,036 unfiltered trucks – more than TriMet and the next largest 24 unfiltered Portland area fleets combined. As the state of Oregon barely regulates them, I think they require a response from us, their neighbors.

Portland Clean Air is working with 41 Portland Neighborhood Association boards, the North East Coalition of Neighborhoods, and 24 Portland-area churches and synagogues to address this airborne diesel particulate through negotiation with unfiltered industrial truck fleets. We are also looking at companies who contract with these unfiltered fleets.

Portland Clean Air appreciates the Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA) who has taken a leadership role to address this with us. ENA has formed a committee to take action. If you have questions about how you can help with this committee, or about monitoring, home air filters, or any other questions, please contact me at greg@portlandcleanair.org or for more information go to portlandcleanair.org/ diesel.

Come hear a presentation by Portland Clean Air at the Eliot
Neighborhood Association general assembly meeting on Monday, October 21 at 6:30pm at St Philip the Deacon Church, 120 NE Knott St (the corner of Knott and Rodney).

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