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Stopping Diesel Pollution

Our neighborhood association  (Brooklyn Action Corps)  has joined a citywide coalition of neighborhoods to address Portland’s longstanding and worsening diesel pollution problem.

On September 26, 2018, we hosted a citywide Townhall Forum on diesel pollution, inviting subject matter experts to help us understand the scope of the crisis, and a panel of elected officials and candidates to ask what can be done.

The National Air Toxics Assessment shows that Portland’s airshed is bursting with a toxic stew consisting of dozens of heavy metals and toxic chemicals, including 49 that are carcinogenic. The assessment was based on  2011 data that took several years for the EPA to analyze and compile.

What is a diesel particulate?

Also know as “black soot,” a diesel particulate is a product of diesel combustion. When diesel fuel is burned, the exhaust contains tiny particles of carbon surrounded by layers of toxic chemicals and gases. Here is a diagram of one diesel particulate. It is 2.5 microns in diameter or smaller.  A micron = 1 millionth of a meter. A human blood cell is 6 microns in diameter. A human hair = the diameter of about 28 particulates. Several thousand particulates would  fit on a period.  Image source: Clean  Air Task Force.

These tiny particulates evade our body’s defenses, pass through our lungs into our bloodstream, and lodge in our organs, including the brain.

Brooklyn and adjacent neighborhoods are severely affected because of the  Brooklyn Rail Yard. Locomotives idle 24/7, and the majority of intermodal freight trucks serving the yards lack any modern emissions controls.

Join our mailing list on the form below, to receive news and updates on this important issue.

Read our fact sheet: “Portland Neighbors  for Diesel Action.”

Here are the information sources recommended by the fact sheet.

“Brooklyn Rail Yard Report” (2017) by Creston-Kenilowrth Association.

“Airborne Particulate Matter and Public Health” (2015) by  Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.

“Portland Area Unfiltered Commercial Diesel Trucks over 26,000 lbs.” (2018) by Portland Clean Air.

“Diesel Truck Mitigation” (2018) by Portland Clean Air.

See these additional sources:

On Portland’s diesel pollution


Video of our Sep 26, 2018 Diesel Townhall Forum

“Portland air among worst in nation”

“EPA grant will fund deep dive into Portland diesel exhaust”

“Oregon DEQ Air Toxics Program”

“How will Oregon Clean up Diesel Pollution? Volkswagen Settlement Fuels A Fight To Phase Out Dirty Old Diesel Engines” PBS News Hour.

“Portland Scientists to Study Local Threat from Diesel Exhaust” (2018) by Oregon Public  Broadcasting.

Portland Clean Air (2015). “Industrial Diesel in Portland”  with Diesel Particulate Map for Portland, by Portland Clean Air.

Neighbors for Clean Air (2018). Linda George, Professor of Environmental Science and Management, Portland State University. Introducing  ground-breaking research in measuring diesel particle emissions.

Abstract of 2008 Linda George paper on pollution modelling

KBOO “Old Mole” episode about diesel pollution (Sep 24, 2018; starts at approximately -53’36“)

Kevin Downing (2011), “Railyard Emissions in Portland Area with Particular Consideration for the Brooklyn Yard”

Reed Magazine (2014). “Senior Thesis Tracks Pollution at Portland Rail Yard”

On health impacts of air pollution, including diesel

Washington Post (Sep 5, 2018): Diesel exposure a major risk factor for dementia

Guardian (August 26, 2018). Air Pollution Causes Huge Reduction in Intelligence, Study Reveals

Oregon DEQ (2018). “Health Effects of Diesel Exhaust”

Portland Air Toxics Solutions Advisory Committee (2011) Pollutant Modeling Summary (2017 Predictions)

Oregonian (7-23-2018). “What’s in Portland’s Smoky Air?  We talked to an air scientist.”

Vicki Stone, et. al. (2017). “Nanomaterials Vs. Ambient Ultrafine Particles: An Opportunity to Exchange Toxicology Knowledge.” Contains a sophisticated diagram of a diesel particulate.

Diesel pollution in European cars

Can we reduce our exposure to diesel exhaust?

Greg Bourget, Portland Clean Air (August 24, 2018), “On HEPA filters to reduce diesel contamination” (Word Document)

Our Pollution Dilemma in a Broader Context

 Independent Science News“Designed to Fail: Why our Regulatory Agencies Don’t Work”

Cascadia Times (8-28-2018), “DEQ in the Dark” 


Clean Air Task Force

Doctors Against Diesel (A U.K. sroup)

Oregon DEQ Air Quality

Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility

Oregon Environmental Council

Portland Clean Air

U. S. Environmental Protection Administration 


DEQ Monitoring Station,  5824 Lafayette Street, Portland
Brooklyn Rail Yard at the Holgate Boulevard Bridge

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