Sen. Merkley Encourages EPA to Look Into Studying Moss for Pollutants

During a Senate Environment and Public Works Committee meeting, Oregon U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley pressed the top official on air quality to investigate the recent discovery of heavy metals in Portland.

Merkley told Janet McCabe, with the EPA Acting Administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, he can’t overstate how concerned Portland residents are about the arsenic and cadmium found near two glass manufacturers. Senator Merkley told McCabe that finding the heavy metals in moss is a breakthrough. And the study was much cheaper than current air monitoring.

Sen. Merkley: “If it turned up these two hotspots in Portland, then maybe this use of moss studies we should undertake – I think the entire study was $20,000 – it should be utilized in other urban zones. I’m imagining you’re looking at that, but I want to encourage that.”

McCabe: “Yes, sir, we really are. I’ve had exactly the same thought pattern as you have, but I think not all cities are as blessed with moss as Portland, um, but I definitely think it’s something we should be looking into.”

Merkley: “The Portland rain does well once again.”

The EPA’s McCabe reassured Merkley they are working with state and federal agencies to look closely at the emissions and regulations of the two glass making facilities in Portland.