Toxic Moss in Portland, Ore., Shakes City’s Green Ideals – The New York Times

When a study found toxic materials on tree trunks in residential neighborhoods of Portland, it produced an upheaval of surprise, anger and fear.

Source: Toxic Moss in Portland, Ore., Shakes City’s Green Ideals – The New York Times

(ed note: later I’ll try to add links to the content below)

Click through the above link to read the original article.

Finally! Here’s testing technology that actually exists in useable form and is affordable to grassroots citizen science activists! (And used fairly locally, to boot.)

Lots of air testing technology that we hear about is “hope-ware” or “vapor-ware”, i.e. the proponents are testing an idea and expect to have it market ready in two, three, six years.  Personal air monitors for example: we get hopeful and then learn that, well, actually, the device, or one that would fit our needs is not on the market yet. But hearing about them shows progress in the field.


High-level testing has been costly beyond the reach of mortals. The unprecedented two-year regional air testing project that was completed in 2015 by ORCAA (Olympic Regional Clean Air Agency) across Port Angeles, Sequim and Port Townsend — which I’m proud to say was initiated by PTAW supportive scientists & given legs by awesome local grassroots activists (some laypeople, some serious movers and shakers) who jumped in when they saw a piece they could move forward, and which study I’m sad to say had the funding plug pulled right before the Port Townsend phase was to start — that study was only possible because the technology to do that level of testing didn’t exist in an affordable form even a few years before! The technology had improved and the price had dropped enough (still a $ few hundred thou) that we were able to convince a coalition of UW, ORCAA and the state legislature to spring for it.

Back when PTAW started (2007 and subsequently), the only game in town were tedlar “bucket” testers that cost $500 per sample – which runs up a big bill very fast if every sample isn’t spot on (a bigger challenge than it sounds).

So, MOSS! About four years ago, PTAW was talking with a researcher in England who was doing pilot studies using tree leaves. They weren’t quite ready to expand their tests, so it went on a backburner.

Time passes and LOOK! The protocol is tested, improved and put to actual use in the real world.

Hmmmm, wonder what it would turn up if done here?

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