Portsmouth, VA

Portsmouth, VA

The City of Portsmouth is home to an estimated 94,572 residents, and it’s located in Portsmouth city, VA.

This report will help you become better acquainted with Portsmouth and the surrounding area by addressing the following questions:

  • Are there any hazardous sites in Portsmouth city, VA?
  • How clean is the air in Portsmouth city, VA?
  • What’s the average radon level for homes in Portsmouth city, VA?
  • Is the water in Portsmouth city, VA safe to drink?

Hazardous Sites near Portsmouth, VA

There are four Superfund sites in Portsmouth city, VA. Superfund sites, like Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, VA, are areas that have been contaminated with hazardous substances. If not for the cleanup efforts orchestrated by the EPA, these sites could endanger people living in nearby communities.

The EPA uses the Hazardous Ranking System (HRS) to quantify the risk a contaminated site poses to human health and the environment. Sites assigned HRS scores of 28.5 or greater qualify for placement on the National Priorities List (NPL), and are eligible to receive federal funding for cleanup efforts.

Before the EPA deletes a site from the NPL, it conducts reviews to ensure the cleanup was sufficient. As a result, some sites remain on the active site list long after cleanup activities are complete.

For more information about the Superfund sites located in the Portsmouth, VA area, be sure to review the map and background information provided below:

Map Legend:


A. Norfolk Naval Shipyard (HRS Score: 50)

The Norfolk Naval Shipyard site is located in Portsmouth, VA.

Contaminants found at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard site include:

  • Arsenic
  • Barium
  • Cadmium
  • Lead
  • Pesticides

B. Peck Iron and Metal (HRS Score: 49)

The Peck Iron and Metal site is located in Portsmouth, VA.


C. Abex Corp. (HRS Score: 37)

The Abex Corp. site is located in Portsmouth, VA.

Contaminants found at the Abex Corp. site include:

  • Antimony
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Lead
  • Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)

D. Atlantic Wood Industries, Inc. (HRS Score: 37)

The Atlantic Wood Industries, Inc. site is located in Portsmouth, VA.

Contaminants found at the Atlantic Wood Industries, Inc. site include:

  • Arsenic
  • Benzene
  • Cadmium
  • Iron
  • Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs)

Air Quality in the Portsmouth, VA Area

The two most widespread forms of air pollution are ozone (smog) and particle pollution (soot). Exposure to these harmful pollutants, for even just a short period, can have adverse effects on your health.

Thanks to data collected by air monitoring equipment located across the country, the American Lung Association (ALA) is able to assess and track our air quality using three metrics:

  • Ozone
  • Short-term Particle Pollution
  • Year-round Particle Pollution

In their 2019 annual report, the ALA rated the air quality in Portsmouth city, VA as follows:

Ozone Pollution

Grading Scale: A-F

Particle Pollution

Grading Scale: A-F

Particle Pollution

Grading Scale: Pass/Fail

DNC (Data Not Collected): Data on associated pollutants were not collected in this county or county equivalent.
INC (Incomplete): Associated pollutants are being monitored in this county or county equivalent, but data were insufficient to assign a grade.

Radon Levels in Portsmouth, VA Area

Air quality inside your home can be impacted by a number of factors, including the presence of hazardous substances in building materials (asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, etc.) and local radon levels.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas you cannot see or smell. It can build up inside your home and negatively impact your indoor air quality as well as your health.

To provide a guideline, the EPA assigned one of three zones to each U.S. county and county equivalent:

  • Zone 1 (higher radon levels)
  • Zone 2 (moderate levels)
  • Zone 3 (lower levels)

The average indoor radon reading in Portsmouth city, VA is predicted to be less than 2 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), so the county has been assigned EPA Radon Zone 3.

EPA Radon Zone

But, it's worth mentioning homes with elevated levels of radon have been found in all three radon zones. So, despite the fact Portsmouth, VA is in EPA Radon Zone 3, you should have a radon test performed on any home you purchase in the area.

Water Quality in Portsmouth, VA Area

In accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the EPA sets regulatory limits for drinking water contaminants known to cause adverse health effects.

The following Portsmouth city, VA water provider(s) violated the maximum allowable level for one or more regulated contaminants:

Filter ValueWater SystemContaminantHealth Effects
51740Norfolk Naval ShipyardTTHMLiver, kidney, or central nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer 

In addition to setting enforceable standards for harmful contaminants, the EPA also established guidelines to assist public water providers in managing the taste, odor and color of their drinking water.

To find out more about what’s in your drinking water, contact your utility company and request a copy of the latest Consumer Confidence Report.

Sources and Methods

Hazardous Sites: Identified using a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hazardous sites detailed on trendingtowns.com represent sites contained on the National Priorities List (NPL) as of November 25, 2019.  The NPL is the list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories.  All site-related data was sourced from the EPA.

Air Quality: Grades for ozone, short-term particle pollution, and year-round particle pollution were obtained from State of the Air 2019, a report compiled by the American Lung Association.

Radon Zones: Radon zone designations were obtained using a public use dataset provided by the EPA (September 11, 2019).

Water Quality: Drinking water violation data was sourced from the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS), a public use database provided by the EPA.  The dataset included violations submitted to the database as of the third quarter of 2019.


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