Tacoma Smelter Plume project

For almost 100 years, the Asarco Company operated a copper smelter in Tacoma. Air pollution from the smelter settled on the surface soil of more than 1,000 square miles of the Puget Sound basin. Arsenic, lead, and other heavy metals are still in the soil as a result of this pollution.

Aerial photo of the Asarco smelter in operation on the shoreline near Tacoma.  Mount Rainer is visible in the background.

What can I do to protect myself?

Arsenic and lead are toxic metals that pose risks if you accidentally ingest or inhale contaminated soil. Children are especially at risk because their bodies are still developing and they put dirty hands and toys in their mouths.

  • Search our online map to find out if you live in the plume and if you qualify for free soil sampling.
  • Take simple healthy actions to protect yourself and your family from soil contamination.
  • Contact your local Dirt Alert program in Pierce, King, or Thurston counties.
  • Search our online map to find sampling or soil replacement records for a property within the plume.

Services and Ecology programs

In 2009, Washington received a settlement from Asarco, including $94.6 million to pay for cleanup of the Tacoma smelter plume. Learn more about our services and programs:

Residential properties

Find out about soil sampling and replacement for residential yards. Learn about healthy actions — simple ways to protect yourself from arsenic and lead in soil.

Areas where children play

Find out about soil sampling and actions taken to protect children where they play.

Property development within the plume

Find advice on how to test for contamination and clean up soil during development.

Buying or selling real estate

Find information for buying or selling residential property within the Tacoma smelter plume.

For more details on how Ecology is using the settlement to protect human health, see the Final Interim Action Plan.