Portland tightens demolition regulations to protect from toxins

7 Feb 2018 by under News

Forest Park in Portland.location map 100x100 Portland tightens demolition regulations to protect from toxinsThe city of Portland, Oregon, is taking a tougher stance on toxic exposure during demolition.

According to the Associated Press, the city will now require at least two inspections before a house can be demolished and neighbors must be notified of the intent to demolish. The Seattle Times reports the rules will apply to all buildings that house one to four families and are 200 square feet or larger.

The move comes after state legislation was passed last year to give cities more power to regulate demolitions in hopes of reducing asbestos and lead exposure. Asbestos was once used in a variety of construction materials, including wall and piping insulation. While it was not used post-1980s, it can still pose a risk in many aging homes. Even inhaling or ingesting a few fibers can cause health risks. Once the fibers enter the body, they can become lodged in internal tissues and eventually cause inflammation that can cause cellular changes resulting in cancer, particularly lung cancer and mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a rare cancer that affects the lining of internal organs that often proves deadly within 18 months of diagnosis.

The city is also increasing the cost of the demolition permit to $180 to fund two new city inspectors. They will be required to visit the demolition site before, during and after the properties have been cleared to ensure the sites have a dust control plan and exterior paint is removed properly, according to The Times.

“I see a real model for the rest of the state,” Sen. Michael Dembrow, one of the sponsors of the state legislation, said of the plan. “If the city of Portland can do this right, I can certainly see other cities taking this up and taking this on because their residents are equally concerned.”

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