DEQ’s Lab makes science the cornerstone of environmental protection in Oregon

The COVID-19 pandemic reinforced the importance of science to inform both government response and individual action. Climate science is used in a similar way to shape decision-making that can deliver a safe, equitable and sustainable future.

At the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, science is the cornerstone of the work we do to better understand the health of Oregon’s environment.

With just 82 employees, the Oregon Laboratory and Environmental Assessment Division, DEQ’s lab, provides the scientific and technical capacity to respond quickly to a broad range of emerging issues and unprecedented events, such as wildfires, that affect public health and the environment.

One way the lab supports the environmental protection functions of the state is to monitor and analyze environmental samples from groundwater, surface water, wastewater, sediment, air, soil and hazardous waste.

Among the most visible work the lab does occurs every summer when data on wildfire smoke and harmful algae blooms is particularly critical. DEQ relies on the data to determine when to issue air advisories or to report on HABs in recreational waters. This first week of May is when the lab’s statewide drinking water cyanotoxin montoring program begins testing on watersheds to look for conditions that may lead to HABs. May also happens to be Wildfire Awareness Month, a good time to review preparedness and air quality resources.

The lab reported statistics on some work conducted over the last year:

Without the laboratory and lab personnel, DEQ would not have evidenced-based, high quality and defensible data to identify and monitor for environmental contaminants in air, land and water throughout Oregon.

–Jennifer K. Flynt, public affairs specialist

A sample of news releases that illustrate the lab’s work:

Water samples show low levels of fuel chemicals in North Santiam River following OR 22 spill

DEQ Laboratory releases air toxics monitoring summary

DEQ updates interactive map of Oregon’s water quality

Wildfire smoke brings record poor air quality to Oregon, new data shows

Oregon wildfires, smoke prompt a coordinated response

Knowing the colors of the air quality index

DEQ Laboratory releases Willamette River Basin Water Toxics Summary

DEQ Lab releases groundwater quality report for Oregon’s Walla Walla Basin

State natural resource agencies report improvements in water quality in parts of Oregon

Oregon DEQ releases 2020 Oregon Water Quality Index

Check out “What is an environmental testing laboratory? (Captioned)” from APHL on Vimeo.

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Published by Oregon Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ’s mission is to be a leader in restoring, maintaining and enhancing the quality of Oregon’s air, land and water.

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