For almost 100 years, the Asarco Company operated a copper smelter in Tacoma. Pollution blown from the smelter's 571-foot smokestack settled on the surface soil over 1,000 square miles in Puget Sound. Arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals are still in the soil as a result of this pollution, and will continue to be a health risk for years to come.
The Tacoma Smelter Plume covers parts of King, Thurston, and Pierce counties. The three county health departments and the Department of Ecology are working to reduce harm from soil contaminated with lead and arsenic.