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Portland, Oregon | November 5th 2020


Toxins report from the Willamette River Basin conducted by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality.

Important findings

Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality has been conducting toxic chemical tests from water, sediment, and tissues in and along the Willamette River Basin since 2008 to assess any health risk, pinpoint hazardous sources, and to better understand how to reduce pollutants to the environment. Within this time period, there have not been any findings that would suggest the water, sediment, or tissues are unsafe. According to the DEQ’s report, all of the chemical resultsare safe levels for humans and animals.

318 chemicals were detected of the 460 tested in the water, sediment, & tissue samples along the Willamette River Basin.
152 chemicals found in sediment samples from a storm pipe in Eugene at the Maurie Jacobs
Every sub-basin of the Willamette River contains the herbicide diuron, which is used to inhibit the growth of moss and weeds on both non-crops and agricultural crops. Diuron is toxic to soils and plants but poses low risks to humans through exposure or consumption by food and/or drinking water.
Crayfish by St. John's Bridge in the Willamette River contained levels of mercury that exceed the DEQ’s human health criterion of the assumed consumption rate of 175grams of mercury
per day.
DDT (Insecticide banned in the U.S. but used in other parts of the world) was found across the Mid-Willamette sub-basin but not in levels that would affect human health.

Increased efforts by DEQ to monitor toxins

  • Frequent sampling is conducted at eleven sites three times a year as part of the Toxins Water Quality program to keep a close eye on any changes that might occur.
  • The DEQ has ramped up its testing sites in order to not assume toxic levels are safe and to expand their knowledge of the Willamette River environment.
  • The DEQ began implementing sediment sampling alongside the yearly tissue sampling already conducted.
  • Permit fees and applications are required for construction and industrial use of stormwater runoffs as a part of the regulatory programs to protect surface water from pollution and toxins.

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