Washington State Department of Ecology

Dept. of Ecology sampling local soil for dioxins and furans

West Seattle, South Park and Georgetown are among the Seattle neighborhoods in which the Washington Department of Ecology will sample soils for dioxins and furans. The agency is conducting a statewide study on their presence in local soils. They will be collecting 120 samples in 20 randomly chosen locations in both rural and urban areas of Washington.

Starting the week of March 28 soil samples will be taken in several Seattle neighborhoods.

The City of Seattle is acting as a partner in the study which will take soil samples along public road right-of-ways including planting strips.

The Seattle locations include South Park, Georgetown, Ravenna, Capitol Hill, West Seattle, Fremont and Ballard. The goal of the study is to determine the range and amount of dioxins in urban areas of Washington, including some areas in Seattle.

The samples will be taken during March and April. The samples will come from publicly accessible locations on public right-of-ways. No sampling will be done on private property. They don't anticipate any interruption of vehicle or pedestrian traffic.

The samples will be analyzed and the results will be shared with neighborhoods through a fact sheet and at neighborhood meetings this summer.

Some studies have already measured dioxin and furan levels in South Park and other nearby Duwamish River locations.

Dioxins are a family of chemicals that have similar chemical structures and biological effects. They are by-products of both human activities and natural processes and among the most toxic compounds on earth.

Dioxins can be formed during forest fires and industrial processes, like chlorine bleaching and in certain types of chemical manufacturing. Dioxins can also be formed during burning and waste incineration. This includes home burn barrels, fireplaces, and wood stoves. Dioxins don’t break down easily in the environment, and as a result, are found everywhere.

For more information about dioxins, visit This Page.

The World Health Organization has this to say about Dioxins:

"Key Facts

  • Dioxins are a group of chemically-related compounds that are persistent environmental pollutants.
  • Dioxins are found throughout the world in the environment and they accumulate in the food chain, mainly in the fatty tissue of animals.
  • More than 90% of human exposure is through food, mainly meat and dairy products, fish and shellfish. Many national authorities have programmes in place to monitor the food supply.
  • Dioxins are highly toxic and can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.
  • Due to the omnipresence of dioxins, all people have background exposure, which is not expected to affect human health. However, due to the highly toxic potential of this class of compounds, efforts need to be undertaken to reduce current background exposure.
  • Prevention or reduction of human exposure is best done via source-directed measures, i.e. strict control of industrial processes to reduce formation of dioxins as much as possible."

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