This morning a dozen students in classy uniforms and just as many parents gathered around a new installation at Harriet Tubman Leadership Academy on North Flint Ave: a white trailer outfitted with jars, tubes and computers designed to figure out exactly what Portland's students are breathing.
After the brief press conference at the site, parents involved with PDX AIR grilled DEQ representative Gregg Lande. Ringleader Mary Peveto asked what the DEQ is going to do about the two "hotspot" toxic air sites models identified in Portland. "Should parents be worried about their kids breathing the air in those areas?" asked Peveto.
"I don't think they should," replied Lande, stressing that this air testing is a first step toward figuring out whether Portland's air is really as bad as the statistician models say it is. "It's important that we get more accurate measurements." While the EPA recommended they place the air testing station near an industrial site, Lande's team chose to put the station at Tubman school which (unlike Jefferson High School or Chapman) isn't near any heavy industry. Deflecting parents' skepticism, Lande explained that the DEQ wants to test the air quality near I-5, which runs just past the small school.
Get the best of the Mercury each week in your inbox!