The studies found arsenic and lead contamination at various levels throughout the sample area. The areas studied extended from Federal Way to West Seattle, east to Bellevue, south to the Kent valley and on Vashon/Maury Island. Contamination appears to be heaviest on the western portion of the area studied, which was closer to the smelter. From 2004-2006, Public Health - Seattle & King County will be working to determine the other geographical limnits of the plume "footprint."
The levels of soil contamination do not present a public health emergency, however, Public Health recommends that all families adhere to the following guidelines to reduce exposure. These guidelines focus on reducing ingestion and inhalation, and include:
- Washing hands before eating
- Keeping dust under control with frequent damp mopping
- Removing shoes before entering the home
- Keeping children off of bare patches of soil
For other questions about the Tacoma Smelter Plume arsenic issues, please contact the WA State Department of Ecology.
Families may be concerned about testing their children for the presence of arsenic or lead in their blood. Public Health recommends that people who think they have been exposed to arsenic and lead consult their doctor about appropriate testing options.
Arsenic tests may indicate recent exposure to arsenic, but do not indicate possible health effects from exposure. Questions about biomonitoring tests for arsenic exposure may be directed to Dr. David Kalman, Chair, Department of Environmental Health, University of Washington: (206) 543-6991. Dr. Jim White, toxicologist at the Washington State Department of Health is also available for questions relating to arsenic exposure: (360) 236-3192.
Public Health recommends children six and under be tested for lead exposure if:
- Tests in soils where the child plays is greater than 350 ppm; or if
- The child has other exposure sources such as peeling paint; or if
- The child has exhibited pica behavior
Please refer to the lead screening guidelines for children developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their publication titled "Screening Young Children for Lead Poisoning." It may be found in the publications section of the CDC lead poisoning prevention site: www.cdc.gov/nceh/lead/lead.htm
Other useful links: