Arsenic and lead are toxic metals and can be harmful to humans, especially children. They pollute the soil in many parts of Washington near former smelters, and old orchards where lead arsenate pesticide was used. They can also be found in products used in our daily lives.
This page provides links to important information about health risks and how to avoid exposure to arsenic and lead.
Arsenic and lead in soil do not pose an immediate health risk. However, long-term exposure increases the risk of certain health problems. We recommend you protect yourself and your family by practicing our simple healthy actions.
Arsenic and lead are not absorbed through the skin.
You can be exposed to arsenic and lead by swallowing or inhaling small amounts of contaminated soil. This includes activities such as:
Young children are more at risk than adults. They are more sensitive because their bodies are smaller and still growing. Also, they normally put their fingers and other things in their mouth, even if they are dirty.
Scientists have linked long-term exposure to arsenic to a variety of health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, and cancer of the bladder, lung, skin, kidney, liver, and prostate.
In children, lead can cause behavioral problems like hyperactivity, permanent learning difficulties, and reduced physical growth. In adults, lead can increase blood pressure, affect memory, and contribute to other health problems.
Snohomish Health District (Everett Smelter):
Northeast Tri-County Health District (Upper Columbia River):
Environmental Health Department
Public Health Seattle & King County (Tacoma Smelter Plume):
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department (Tacoma Smelter Plume):