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Toxic Chemicals in Puget Sound

Toxic Chemicals Studied

Toxic chemicals enter the Puget Sound basin from many scattered and hard-to-control sources. Once released, toxic chemicals can affect the environment and human health.

While there are thousands of chemicals in use today, scientists had to narrow the field to a manageable number of chemicals to study. The Puget Sound Toxics Assessment focuses on 17 toxic chemicals and chemical groups due to their observed or potential to harm the health of people, fish, and Puget Sound.

Studying these chemicals also helps us understand how other pollutants not included in the assessment may also behave in the environment.

Chemicals in the Toxics Assessment include:

  • The elements arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, mercury, and zinc.
  • Three categories of PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which are components of creosote-treated wood, wood smoke, and vehicle exhaust.
  • Petroleum-based compounds such as motor oil, hydraulic fluids, gasoline, diesel and jet fuels and other petroleum products.
  • Flame retardants such as PBDEs (polybrominated diphenyl ethers).
  • Phthalates, a family of chemicals commonly used to make plastics flexible and durable.
  • PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane), which were banned years ago but are still present in the environment.
  • Dioxin, particularly PCDD/Fs (polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins and polychlorinated dibenzofurans).
  • Triclopyr, a commonly used weed killer.
  • Nonylphenol, a compound often found when detergents break down and in industrial air emissions.

For more information, see Harmful Effects

Assessment of Selected Toxic Chemicals in the Puget Sound Basin

Assessment of Selected Toxic Chemicals in the Puget Sound Basin: 2007—2011

Focus on Puget Sound: Puget Sound Toxics Assessment

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