Friday, November 4, 2011

Around the Sound: New report looks at toxic pollution

By Seth Preston, Communications Manager, Toxics Cleanup Program

On Thursday (Nov. 3, 2011), Ecology and the Puget Sound Partnership released the latest look at what’s known about toxic chemical pollution in the Puget Sound region.

The new Puget Sound Toxics Assessment is the final component of a multi-year, multi-agency effort that started in 2006 to understand where toxic chemicals come from, how they get to Puget Sound and the potential harm they cause to people, fish and other creatures.

Here’s a link to the report.

The report evaluated a variety of ways that toxic chemicals reach Puget Sound. These include surface water runoff — or stormwater — as well as groundwater releases, air deposition and wastewater treatment plant discharges.

Sources of Toxic Pollutants

It found toxic chemical pollutants come from many scattered and hard-to-reach sources throughout the Sound. The most common way toxic chemicals get into the environment is through polluted surface water runoff that flows off of residential, commercial and industrial areas.

When rain hits roofs, roads, and other hard surfaces in developed areas, it picks up and carries toxic chemicals with it. This polluted water then runs into storm drains and goes, mostly untreated, directly into area lakes, streams and rivers, as well as Puget Sound.

Toxic pollutants can threaten environmental and human health. Most don’t break down easily, and they stay in the environment a long time. They can enter the Puget Sound food chain and wind up in the bodies of fish, seals, orca whales and people.

Learn More

Here’s Ecology’s news release on the report. And here are some examples media coverage from the Kitsap Sun, The Associated Press and KUOW Radio.

For more background on toxic chemicals reaching the Sound, check out past blog posts here and here.

In addition, the Puget Sound Partnership recently announced its targets for protecting the Sound. Here’s the Partnership’s news release and the Kitsap Sun’s article and blog on the announcement.

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