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The Toxics Assessment provides estimated volumes for toxic chemicals released in the Puget Sound basin. The term â€śsourceâ€ť means a human-caused object or activity from which a toxic chemical is initially released to the air, land, and waters in the entire Puget Sound basin.
The Puget Sound basin is made up of 2,800 miles of inland marine waters, 2,500 miles of marine and freshwater shorelines, and 19 river drainage basins. It includes the 12 counties that border Puget Sound â€” Clallam, Island, Jefferson, King, Kitsap, Mason, Pierce, San Juan, Skagit, Snohomish, Thurston and Whatcom.
Not all toxic pollutants reach Puget Sound and the waters that drain to it. Environmental processes such as dilution, deposition and degradation can reduce concentrations of toxic pollutants as they move away from their sources. â€śLoading Quantitiesâ€ť are the amount of a chemical estimated to reach Puget Sound waters every year from a particular pathway.
The total estimated amount of toxic chemicals released from all sources to the Puget Sound basin typically will be a greater number than the Loading Quantities figure.
The major sources of toxic pollutants are more concentrated in urban and suburban areas. Developed lands such as residential, commercial, and industrial areas were found to contribute the highest concentrations of pollutants.
The Assessment found that toxic chemicals are released from many scattered and hard-to-control sources throughout Puget Sound, ranging from chemicals leaching from roofing materials to motor oil drips and leaks from our cars and trucks. Many products we use every day — such as detergents, plastics, and pesticides — add to the toxic chemicals reaching our waters.
Finding alternatives has reduced the use of other chemicals. In Washington, lead has been banned in wheel weights, which are now made from steel and other less toxic metal compounds. In addition, copper is being phased out of brake pads and eliminated from boat paint in Washington. On the other hand, we still use many products that contain copper, lead, and other harmful chemicals.
Total estimated releases and largest sources for each chemical(1 metric ton is approximately 2,200 pounds)
a The study area which includes Puget Sound, the U.S. portion of the Straits of Georgia and Juan de Fuca and the entire U.S. portion of the watershed for Puget Sound and the Straits.
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