Washington State Department of Ecology - June 26, 2013

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Studies confirm elevated metals along upper Columbia River valley

SPOKANE – The Washington Department of Ecology (Ecology) is releasing results of two studies confirming elevated levels of metals in the upper Columbia River valley. The contamination was measured in surface soils and wetlands and lake sediments.

Both studies tested for metals associated with historic smelting operations in Trail, British Columbia, including arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury and zinc. Analysis showed primarily arsenic and lead contamination above state cleanup guidelines for sediments.

The soil sampling targeted undeveloped forested land on both sides of the Columbia River. Testing locations did not include residential and agricultural lands or community use areas.

Ecology is asking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to accelerate a sampling program assessing potential health risks in residential and recreational areas near the U.S.-Canadian border due to elevated levels of metals. 

Ecology, Washington Department of Health, and Northeast Tri-County Health District encourage those living or recreating  in areas potentially affected by historic smelting operations to consider adopting several healthy actions to reduce their exposure to the toxic chemicals. These actions are especially important for young children including:

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Media Contacts:

Brook Beeler, communication manager, @ecyspokane, 509-329-3478, brook.beeler@ecy.wa.gov

For more information:

Ecology’s Upper Columbia River Lake Roosevelt Site page (https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/gsp/Sitepage.aspx?csid=12125)

Ecology's social media (www.ecy.wa.gov/about/socialmedia.html)