EPA grants money to state for two-year study into known lethal air pollutant.

COURTESY OF PSU - Linda George, PSU professor of environmental science, will lead a study of the toxic effects of diesel pollution in Portland. Researchers from Portland State University and Reed College will study local diesel exhaust emissions with an eys to identifying neighborhoods most vulnerable to the air pollution.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded a $466,276 grant to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and local partners to conduct the two-year study.

The lead researcher will be Linda George, a PSU environmental science professor, working with PSU colleague Vivek Shandas, an urban planning professor, and Juliane Fry, a Reed chemistry professor.

"We'll be gathering data to create essentially a fingerprint of different types of diesel pollution," George said in a prepared release.

"Knowing more specifics about what's in diesel and where it comes from will help us design community-driven strategies to reduce health risks from diesel pollution," said Mary Peveto, director of Neighbors for Clean Air, a Portland group that has been lobbying to crack down on sources of diesel in Oregon.

Diesel exhaust is a known carcinogen that is believed to cause more than 450 premature deaths per year in Oregon. Federal data crunched by the Clean Air Task Force in Boston shows that Multnomah County has the fourth-highest level of diesel soot of all U.S. counties — more than in Los Angeles County.

While there have been ample efforts here to replace diesel-spewing school buses and help truckers upgrade to clean-diesel models, Oregon has failed to enact tough requirements to force older diesel vehicles off the road, as California has, causing some companies to move those older trucks up north to Oregon. Efforts to stiffen the state's rules have failed to pass at the Oregon Legislature.

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