Reduce Toxic Pollution
Significantly, reducing the toxic pollution that is entering Puget Sound is one of the 8 key objectives that is established in law for the ‘Puget Sound Partnership’s 2020 Action Agenda‘.
What seems to be the problem?
For the past 100 years, people have introduced a wide array of chemicals into the Puget Sound environment. Many of these chemicals are poisonous and cause health problems for people, plants, as well as animals, too.
The more persistent chemicals have settled into the mud and sediments on the bottom of the sound. Scientists have also found some evidence of toxic chemicals such as PCB‘s in the tissues of living organisms. PCB’s pass through the food web from tiny zooplankton through chinook salmon to seals and orcas.
Toxic chemicals are still flowing into Puget Sound waters and sediments from a variety of sources. As their population increases, the amount of chemicals coming from their hold-holds and businesses will increase also. The magnitude of toxic activity is a significant threat to the Sound’s long-term health.
Some of the sources of toxics include the following:
Industrial discharges Sewage treatment plant dischages Oil spills Motor vehicle exhaust and fluid leaks Emissions from burning fossil fuels and wood Pilings and railroad ties coated with creosote Pesticides, herbicides, and other products we use in our daily lives that contain harmful compounds
Pollution from toxic contamination adds to the overall decline of the Puget Sound’s health in the following key ways:
Risks to human health. Increasingly, people are being advised not eat fish and shellfish from certain parts of Puget Sound. You can put your health risk when you eat contaminated seafood. Harm to marine plant and animal life. Many types of fish as well as seals and orca now show high levels of toxic contamination. Continued exposure to toxic chemicals puts marine life at risk throughout the Sound. Future risks are unknown. Scientists do not fully understand there is possible hard from items like prescription medicine and personal care products that is entering the waste stream and eventually to our waters. As the area’s population increases, chemicals flowing from households and businesses into municipal sewage treatment, plants will also increase.
What is being done now to control and clean up toxic pollution in Puget Sound?
Every day, efforts to address toxic pollution take place throughout the Sound. State, local and federal agencies, tribes, non-profit organizations and businesses are the main players.
The following are some highlights of work underway:
Cleaning up contaminated sediments. The Washington Department of Ecology is cleaning up contaminated sediments and sites in upland and aquatic areas. Reducing hazardous waste. Ecology’s Hazardous Waste and Toxic Reduction program is providing technical assistance to help businesses around Puget Sound reduce toxic waste from their operations. Chemical Action Plans. Ecology and the Department of Health are developing chemical action plans to reduce the most persistent and harmful chemicals such as mercury, lead, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons (PAH’s). Creosote-log removal. Puget Sound beaches are littered with old pilings, logs, and railroad ties coated with creosote. The Northwest Straits Marine Conservation Initiative and the Washington Department of Natural Resources have launched a joint project to identify and remove creosote-laden materials from beaches in seven counties in Northwest Washington. Toxic-Free Legacy Coalition. A statewide alliance of more than 50 organizations works to eliminate persistent toxic chemicals from people and the environment. The coalition’s visiion is to leave children a legacy of fresh air, clean water, thriving wildlife and healthy bodies. Swinomish Tribal Community’s Bioaccumulative Toxics in Native American Shellfish project. From 2002-2006, Swinomish researchers studied pollution levels at several of the tribe’s traditional shellfish gathering areas. Oil Spill Advisory Council. The Oil Spill Advisory Council is working to improve how the state prevents and responds to oil spills. Pesticide disposal events. Washington State Department of Agriculture is collecting unusable, cancelled, or suspended pesticides. Agriculture will sponsor six collection events with the goal of collecting 60 000 pounds of unwanted pesticides in the 2007-2009 biennium.