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Monday, August 18, 2014

Fecal Matters: Beach reopened at Eagle Harbor Waterfront Park in Kitsap County, WA

BEACH Program Update

On August 16, 2014, Kitsap County Public Health District opened the beach at Eagle Harbor Waterfront Park on Bainbridge Island, WA for water recreation.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Visit the BEACH website to find the latest results for these and other saltwater beaches: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Debby Sargeant is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6139 or debby.sargeant@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Fecal Matters: Irondale Beach CLOSED to swimming, Jefferson Co, WA

BEACH Program Update

On August 15, 2014, Jefferson County changed the swimming recommendation for Irondale Park beach from a swimming advisory to a swimming closure due to high levels of fecal bacteria in the water.  Jefferson County staff will be resampling the beach on Monday, August 18th.  The public is to have no contact with the water until further notice.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Debby Sargeant is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6139 or debby.sargeant@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Around the Sound: Bringing back the oysters

By Seth Preston, communications manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

Staff and volunteers for the non-profit Puget Sound Restoration Fund took to the water recently to boost the Olympia oyster population in Port Gamble Bay.

A volunteer washes oyster shells into the bay.
It's part of Ecology's work to restore and preserve the Kitsap County bay, a key cleanup area for the Toxics Cleanup Program under the Puget Sound Initiative. Port Gamble Bay and its shores, like other former and current "working waterfronts" around the Sound, are polluted from large historical industrial operations -- in this case, from a large sawmill that operated for roughly 140 years.

The Puget Sound Restoration Fund spread oyster shells to provide a base for reviving the Olympia oyster population in the bay, which will support restoration of Washington's only native oyster.

Other restoration and preservation work in Port Gamble Bay includes:
  • Removing creosote-treated pilings at Point Julia, Martha John Estuary and other locations.
  • Studying the reasons why herring populations have slumped badly in Port Gamble Bay, as they have in other parts of the Sound.
  • Revitalizing riparian vegetation along the shores and eelgrass in the water to support fish, birds and other organisms.

Not their first rodeo

Oyster shells are used to help revive oyster populations.
This was not the first time the Restoration Fund folks have tackled a shellfish project. They spread 200 cubic yards of oyster shells in Skagit County's Fidalgo Bay, thanks to funding Ecology secured through a Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration settlement tied to the former Scott Paper mill.

The Port Gamble effort, however, is on a much larger scale -- staff and volunteers spread 1,500 cubic yards of oyster shells.

We will be watching to see what happens next.

Cleanup also coming

At the same time, we're continuing to work with Pope Resources to design a cleanup of pollution caused by historical operations at the old Pope & Talbot forest products mill on the bay. The mill operated from 1853 to 1995 before closing.

We are on target for in-water cleanup work to start in summer 2015.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Fecal Matters: Allyn Waterfront Park is OPEN for swimming, Mason County, WA

BEACH Program Update

On August 12, 2014, Mason County Public Health opened the beach at Allyn Waterfront Park for water recreation.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Visit the BEACH website to find the latest results for these and other saltwater beaches: http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/eap/beach/

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Debby Sargeant is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6139 or debby.sargeant@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Fecal Matters: Closure issued to Eagle Harbor swimming beaches, Bainbridge Island, Kitsap County, WA

BEACH Program Update

On August 10, 2014, Kitsap County Public Health issued a closure to swimming beaches in Eagle Harbor due to a sewage spill caused by a force main break. The public is to have no contact with the water until further notice.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections, and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on our blog Fecal Matters, on Facebook, or join our listserv.

Debby Sargeant is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at 360-407-6139 or debby.sargeant@ecy.wa.gov for questions.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Fecal Matters: Swimming Advisory Issued for Allyn Waterfront Park beach, Allyn, WA.

BEACH Program Update

On August 8, 2014, Mason County Health Department issued a swimming advisory for Allyn Waterfront Park beach, Allyn, WA.  The advisory was issued due to high fecal bacteria in the water.  This beach will be resampled on August 11, 2014 to determine if water quality has improved.

Contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.

Stay updated about water quality at your beaches by keeping up with us on Facebook, checking beach status on Coastal Atlas, or joining our listserv. Debby Sargeant is the BEACH Program Manager and is available at debby.sargeant@ecy.wa.gov for questions.




Thursday, August 7, 2014

Tackling Toxics: PCB problem requires creative solutions

PCBs are in many paints!
By Erika Holmes, communications, Reducing Toxic Threats

You would think that a toxic substance we stopped using 35 years ago would no longer be a problem, right? Wrong.

Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination is widespread throughout Washington and found in almost every water body in the state.

History of PCBs

PCBs were produced for commercial uses from about 1929 to 1977. During this time, PCBs were widely used for heat transfer fluids in electrical transformers and capacitors. They were also used as plasticizers, wax and pesticide extenders, and lubricants. Many common products used to contain PCBs at high levels, such as carbonless copy paper and caulk used to seal cracks in homes and buildings.

As early as 1936, serious skin irritations and other health effects were noted in industrial workers exposed to PCBs, which led to increased protection for workers but didn’t slow their manufacture. By 1976, it was clear PCBs were also an environmental problem. The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was passed to ban the majority of PCB uses and restrict remaining concentrations to low levels. This law was in effect by 1979.

Health & environmental effects

Unfortunately, PCBs last for a very long time in the environment. This is a concern not only for plants and animals, but also for humans. PCBs have toxic effects to the immune, reproductive, nervous, and hormone-regulation systems in humans and other living things. PCBs cause cancer in animals and are considered likely to cause cancer in humans.

PCBs also build up in living things, which is amplified when predators eat prey (known as biomagnification, see illustration, courtesy of the Seattle Post Intelligencer). For example, the Washington Department of Health has set fish advisories for many bodies of water due to PCB and other contamination. When a person eats fish that’s been living in waters contaminated by PCBs, that contamination then enters her body and adds to the store she already may have from other exposures – like consumer products.

Breaking the law?

PCBs continue to show up in products today because manufacturing them at low levels was not outlawed by TSCA. They are often inadvertently produced during manufacturing processes, especially those including pigments or dyes. Concentrations in each product are low. However, the large numbers of products that contain PCBs add up to significant, problematic releases to the environment.

The results are in: PCBs in consumer products

We recently tested 68 consumer products and confirmed that PCBs are present in commonly used items. Forty-nine, or 72 percent, of the products contained at least one of four PCB types. We ran the tests to gauge PCB levels in consumer products and potential releases to Washington’s environment.

Chemist Alex Stone prepping samples for the lab.
Items tested in our study include paper products, paints and colorants, caulking, printer ink, and some product packaging. Full details – including a complete product listing – are available in a report on Ecology’s website. The study focused only on four PCB types that previous studies have linked to pigments and dyes. A future report will include results for all 209 PCB types.

We have already begun a second round of testing for PCBs in consumer products with a focus on yellow, green and blue paints and colorants, colored clothing, cosmetics, soaps, office products and products used by children, such as fingerpaints and comic books. Some of this testing will help state agencies comply with a new law requiring agencies to only buy PCB-free products.

If you have any questions about the PCB report, please contact Alex Stone at 360-407-6758.

PCBs affect water quality

Gov. Inslee’s Clean Water Initiative to update water quality standards and reduce toxic threats includes PCBs as a key chemical of concern. Contamination levels are high enough to require cleanup plans in several areas, including the Lower Duwamish Waterway, Spokane River, Wenatchee River, and Lake Washington. Ecology also found elevated PCB levels in the Puget Sound basin and estimated releases as part of the Puget Sound Toxics Assessment.

PCBs in consumer products are also making it difficult for some companies to meet their water quality discharge limits. For example, a large paper recycler in the Spokane area is having trouble meeting its water discharge limits because of PCB contamination in a lot of the products it recycles, including newspaper and consumer product packaging. If we can help get rid of PCBs in these products, it benefits not only the environment but industry as well.

Be part of the solution

We have drafted a chemical action plan identifying PCB sources in the state and recommending ways to reduce exposures. We are inviting public comments on the plan Aug. 6 to Oct. 6, 2014. If you have questions or comments, please contact Holly Davies at 360-407-7398.

These product-testing campaigns are just one piece of a much larger toxics puzzle. You can stay informed about all our work to reduce toxic threats by: