NECN & Pollution

Many people are surprised to find out the Portland area suffers from high levels of air and water pollution, but a growing chorus has been demanding change.

NECN supports the efforts of a wide variety of groups working to decrease pollution in the Portland area. We connect activated residents with groups that are dedicated to these causes, and support them through organizing, outreach and the dissemination of information.

The Issues


The Portland area was shocked when a 2016 study from Portland State University revealed that Portland's air contained dangerous levels of cadmium and arsenic, 49 and 159 times the state air-safety benchmark. This has led to the Portland Metro Area being listed as one of the worst cities for air quality in the nation. 

This finding caused an uproar and brought into focus a long-dormant issue in the Metro area, and Portlanders agitated for change, especially as specific glass producing industries located in residential areas were found to be the culprits. 

CONTACT our Community and Environmental Engagement Coordinator, Jessica Rojas, if you want to learn more. 


In 2000, Portland Harbor was named a Superfund site. Superfund sites are areas where toxic chemicals have been suspected of being released into the environment and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) determines an investigation of the type and severity of such releases is needed. Over the past century, contaminants including arsenic, chromium and the pesticide DDT have been released into the water and onto the shoreline surrounding Portland Harbor and have been found in the resident fish populations.

The EPA has finally announced a plan to deal with this issue. Read more about it HERE.  


Many groups are working on these issues and are always looking for volunteers: