Pilot Project: Farm Exposures to Deposited Arsenic and Lead on Vashon Island

(PNASH Pilot 1999-2000) Vashon Island, Washington, is situated north of the former ASARCO smelter in Ruston/Tacoma. Prevailing winds carried arsenic and lead from the smelter to the Island. Surface soils are contaminated at levels well above background for both elements. Persons living on the island are subject to potentially elevated exposures to arsenic and lead. Persons at highest risk of exposure are likely to be those who have relatively intimate contact with soil. Those who eat locally grown crops are also at risk. Island farmers and their children are obvious targets for exposure assessment. A stakeholder group, the Vashon Island Growers’ Association, requested testing of farms and farmers for evidence of smelter residue contamination. During this project we collaborated with the community to investigate an at risk population and answered some of their questions.