Soil Sampling in the Tacoma Smelter Plume
Taking soil samples by pushing a small tube into the ground.
Soil sample in a jar, ready to send to the lab.
Photos courtesy of Walt Burdsall, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to get free soil sampling. We also have brochures for testing your own soils. To find out which program you are eligible for…
Your yard may have already been sampled…
Many yards in EPA Study Area of Ruston and north Tacoma were already sampled. If your home is one of those, our interactive map will direct you to the Arsenic in Soil Database, where you can find sampling data and if your yard was cleaned up.
Yard Sampling and Cleanup Program (Yard Program)
The Yard Program provides free soil sampling and cleanup for residential yards in the most contaminated areas of the Tacoma Smelter Plume. Once you have checked our interactive map, you can fill out a sampling access form. We will begin sampling on Vashon-Maury Island in late 2013, and in Tacoma in late 2013 or early 2014. We will start in areas marked “A”.
Some areas on the map are marked “more data required.” We will collect more samples before deciding if each area should be added to the Yard Program. Either way, homeowners can still get their yards sampled.
Free Home Soil Testing Program
This outreach program is for homes outside of the Yard Program area, but still in an area likely to have contamination. To sign up:
If we find arsenic over 90 parts per million, you can choose to join the Yard Program. We would need to take more samples before deciding which areas of your yard need cleanup.
Take Your Own Soil Samples
You can take your own soil samples if you live outside of the Yard Program and Home Soil Testing Program areas. Ecology’s soil sampling brochures explain how you can take soil samples using tools found around the home. Samples cost around $30-40 to analyze for both arsenic and lead.
If you are building a home or developing a property…
We recommend sampling soils before beginning your project. For more information, visit our Technical Assistance page.
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