The colored art glass world has had a rough go of it since February. Real rough, in fact. Two companies located here in Portland were cited by the DEQ for releasing hazardous metal pollutants into the air. Immediately and voluntarily, both companies did the right thing and stopped using the materials that were detected. Further tests were done. Again, more bad stuff was found. And once more they immediately and voluntarily stopped using the materials. Production of many beautiful and vibrantly colored glasses was halted right then and there.
Both of these companies were in full compliance with all regulations when the hazardous detections were discovered. Unfortunately, the regulations were found to be inadequate. Herein lies the hurdle. Industrial regulations need to be reformed and public agencies need to be responsible about enforcing the regulations.
I want to live in an environment that is healthy – one where industrial businesses and agencies work together to keep our world free from hazardous materials. Just a few days ago DEQ and one of the glass makers signed an agreement. This is a big step – a huge stride.
Furnaces used in the manufacturing of colored glass are being outfitted with a contraption called a baghouse. It’s an emissions control device which makes is possible for colored glass to be produced in a monitored manner that ensures air safety. It’s going to take some time before all the colors are back in production. Progress is being made, one furnace at a time.
I’m proud to be part of an art community where our prominent glass suppliers do the right thing, and seek resolutions despite emotion and financial hardship for their businesses. Having a smaller, paler color palette for a few more months is a small price for me to pay.