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Portland Public Schools is contracting with two consulting firms to test the air inside both Cleveland High School and Winterhaven K-8, after news emerged yesterday that state officials believe a nearby glass factory is emitting alarming levels of the carcinogens cadmium and arsenic.

PPS sent out a letter to parents of southeast Portland schoolchildren last night, according to spokesperson Christine Miles, and hopes for measurements of the two schools' inner air quality within days.

"That’s the only thing we can control," Miles says. "We need to look at what we can do, which is the inside of the school."

PPS, like many parents and residents near Bullseye Glass, near SE Powell and 21st, have expressed alarm since yesterday, when the Mercury revealed that state testing last year found monthly averages of 49 times state benchmarks for cadmium, and 159 times the benchmark for arsenic. Officials believe Bullseye is the reason, though the company's operating within the bounds of state regulation.

Miles says the school district had no advance notice of the findings, and that the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and Oregon Health Authority haven't offered any more specifics than they've given the public.

"It’s frustrating," Miles says. "What does this mean? What are they doing? We’ve asked them to call a public meeting as soon as possible. We need a public meeting."

The management of a large daycare even closer to Bullseye plans to hold a public meeting this evening to discuss the situation with parents. And Miles says DEQ told school officials it would create a webpage specifically to address concerns over air quality in SE Portland.

"We have parents who are alarmed," Miles says. "They don't understand what's happening. If they feel like it’s not a safe environment it's their choice to keep their kids at home."

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