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Toxics Cleanup Program

Everett Smelter Cleanup

Protecting your family from contamination  

The Asarco smelter, which operated in Everett in the early 1900s, caused widespread arsenic and lead contamination in northeast Everett. In addition to contamination left behind on the old smelter property, particles from the stacks settled on the surrounding areas, contaminating soil. The most highly contaminated soil at the Everett Smelter site has already been removed or covered with buildings or pavement. Soil with lower levels of arsenic and lead remains in a lot of yards and may be a health hazard over time unless you minimize your exposure. 

Arsenic and lead are harmful and may pose a long-term health risk. Arsenic can cause cancer and has been linked to several other health problems including heart disease and diabetes.  Lead can cause behavioral problems, learning disabilities and reduce physical growth.      

Arsenic and lead are not well absorbed through the skin.  However, they can get into your body if you swallow small amounts of soil by eating with dirty hands or putting dirty fingers in your mouth. You can also be exposed if you inhale dust or dirt contaminated with lead or arsenic. Young children are more vulnerable than adults. They normally put their fingers and other things in their mouths, even if there is dirt or dust on them.  Also children are still growing so they are more sensitive than adults to contamination.    

Ecology plans to remove contaminated soil at the Everett Smelter cleanup site to reduce or eliminate exposure and reduce the health hazards for residents. Until cleanup can be completed, Ecology recommends that you take the actions (box below) to protect your family from contamination that might be on your property. Ecology has been partnering with the State Department of Health to help communicate information about potential risks from contaminated soil.   

If you live in the Everett Smelter Cleanup Area, we recommend you:  

If you are outside the cleanup area and still want to test your soil, Ecology recommends you use the Soil Sampling Guidance that was developed for the Tacoma Smelter Site. If you have any questions, please contact an Ecology staff member (contact list on the front page).

For more information about the health impacts of arsenic, read this Washington State Department of Health Fact Sheet: 

For more Information about lead and arsenic in the environment, visit this link: