smoke stack

Necessity of Air Monitoring in Northport, WA:   Part I


The WA Department of Ecology’s air monitoring studies completed in Northport from 1992-1998 showed extremely elevated levels of arsenic (200 times higher than the national standard), and cadmium (see the results below in part II).

No air monitoring has been done since 1998.

So has Northport continued to be exposed to these dangerous levels of arsenic and cadmium since Ecology confirmed this, 18 years ago?  Is that why residents continue to be plagued with similar auto immune diseases their parents and grandparents had?   

The EPA is currently working on obtaining air monitoring in the area, but since Teck is conducting the RI/FS of the area it is a matter of convincing them to cooperate. 

Keep reading to learn how


Necessity of Air Monitoring in Northport, WA:   Part II

Summary of Ecology’s Northport Air Quality Studies,

Phases I – IV, (1992-1998) 



Screening Acronyms used by Ecology and EPA in testing certain heavy metal toxins:

    • Acceptable Source Impact Level (ASIL): Toxins must be found at or below the ASIL set by the EPA based on Standard ambient air background levels throughout the State.
    • Risk Based Specific Concentration Level (RSC): Toxins found at or above the RSC set by the EPA are considered high enough to pose as a risk to the environment and human health.



Arsenic Safety/Risk Levels:

  • The ASIL:  .00023 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3)
  • The RSC:  0.0023 ug/m3

Cadmium Safety/Risk Levels:

  • The ASIL:  .00056 ug/m3
  • The RSC:  0.1164 ug/m3





PHASE I:   Dec. 15, 1992 – Feb. 13, 1993

• Five air monitors installed

• 100 samples of particulate matter (PM) collected and analyzed for lead, arsenic, and particulate matter.

PHASE II:   Aug. 10, 1993 – Oct. 30, 1993

• Seven air monitors installed

• The particulate filters were scanned for 30 toxic metals, cadmium, zinc, antimony, lead, copper, arsenic, and manganese.

• Computer Modeling conducted to better “understand the probable sources of pollutants…”



    • Phase I –     maximum arsenic level detected:  .25 ug/m3 
    • Phase II –    maximum arsenic level detected:  0.1164 ug/m3
    • Results –   Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in both phases.


** Cadminum was only tested in the Phase II air monitoring
    • Phase II – maximum cadmium level detected:  .0474 ug/m3
    • Results –   Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels


The results of the computer modeling done in Phase II confirmed “…the monitoring data results in predicting that winds and pollutants from the (Teck) smelter can easily travel down the Columbia River Valley to produce moderately high pollutant concentrations in the study area.”



PHASE III:   Nov. 3, 1993 – Aug. 6, 1994

• One monitoring site – located 3 miles NE of Northport on “Paparich”

• Metals evaluated – lead, arsenic, cadmium



    • Phase III:   Arsenic maximum yearly average:  .12 ug/m3
    • Results:   Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase III


    • Phase III:   Cadmium maximum yearly average:  .04 ug/m3
    • Results:   Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase III



PHASE IV:   Sept. 5, 1997 – Dec. 31, 1998

• Three monitoring sites in Northport

• Metals evaluated – arsenic, lead, cadmium, zinc



    • Phase IV:    Arsenic maximum yearly average:  .02 ug/m3
    • Results:    Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC Levels in phase IV


    • Phase IV:    Cadmium maximum yearly average:  .01 ug/m3
    • Results:   Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC Levels in phase IV



In conclusion;  of the four Air Monitoring Studies conducted by Ecology between 1992 thru 1998 the level of arsenic and cadmium consistently exceeded all safety standards.  The levels found were high enough to pose a risk to our environment and human health.Ecology concluded in phase IV monitoring that they would:

continue its efforts to fine- tune the MM5, CALMET and CALPUFF air quality models for utilization in the Northport study area. …(I)n addition to evaluating the need for further emission reductions at the (Teck) facility, the above models will be used to determine pollutant impact “hot spots” and optimum long-term air quality monitoring site locations (in Northport).”

No air monitoring has taken place in Northport since the conclusion of phase IV in 1998.  For 18 years the community of Northport has been exposed to unsafe levels of arsenic and cadmium, levels the Department of Ecology knew about, and warned the EPA about…..but no one warned the residents of Northport, and no one has bothered to follow up.

The EPA and Ecology are currently, and so far unsuccessfully, trying to obtain funding from Teck to install air monitors in and around Northport. 

We can assist the EPA  and Ecology in obtaining this funding.  

Keep reading to find out how.


Necessity of Air Monitoring in Northport, WA:   Part III


**See letter to copy/sign/paste/send to EPA contact requesting air monitoring at end of article**

So, it was established in the air monitoring conducted by Ecology from 1992-1998 that the levels of arsenic and cadmium in Northport’s air was much higher than safety standards, and risk based concentrations.  The levels of Arsenic were actually 200 times higher than those found at the worst smelter Superfund site in the world, Tacoma Smelter.   Our air was not safe.

EPA and Ecology have been unable to further monitor Northport’s air because of lack of funding, and honestly we fall pretty low on their priority list.  They are currently trying to get Teck to fund air monitoring in the area as part of the Superfund clean-up agreement. Teck is arguing that they are not responsible under CERCLA law for their air emissions.

What the EPA and Teck did not share with the public is that Teck did continued to monitor Northport air, with one monitor, between 1994-2006

Tucked away in appendix G of Teck’s Upper Columbia River remedial investigation/feasibility study, volume 2, is the results of this air monitoring.  Arsenic and Cadmium continue to be way above safety standards and risk based concentrations.  The EPA was not even aware this data existed, or that they had access to it, until I asked them about it. 

To help EPA obtain the funding for air monitors in Northport a demand must be shown. 

If past and present Northport resident, and residents of surrounding communities, copy, paste, and sign the below letter and send it to our EPA project manager, Laura Buelow at, our chances increase ten fold.


Please, take five minutes to do this.  Those five minutes can help protect generations of Northport residents to come.





Ms. Beulow:

I am writing to ask EPA to consider an air monitoring study in and around Northport, WA. I believe that the results of the residential soil study clearly show that a formal air monitoring study should be performed in the study area. Aerial deposition of contaminants did occur in the study area and it needs to be determined if this contamination is ongoing.

The results of the four air monitoring studies conducted by the Department of Ecology in Northport between 1992-1998 found levels of arsenic and cadmium to consistently exceed the ASIL and RSC levels.  At the levels reported, the EPA considers them high enough to pose as a risk to the environment and human health.

The results of the air monitoring Teck conducted in Northport between 1994 – 2006 can be found in the EPA/Teck Report: Upper Columbia River remedial investigation/feasibility study, volume 2, appedix G. Unfortunately, Arsenic and Cadmium continue to be way above the ASIL & RSC safety standards and risk based concentrations.

Based on this information, along with ongoing health studies in the area, it seems logical that the contamination is ongoing.

An air monitoring study should be performed for a minimum of 18 months at  the following locations:  Two high level lead contamination site (established in the residential soil study results),  and at one low level lead contamination control site.  Two high level arsenic/cadmium site (established in Ecology air monitoring study), and at one low level arsenic/cadmium site.

Some or all of these sites may need to be monitored over a longer period, depending on the results of the 18-month study.



5 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by gregory dean ivans on March 25, 2016 at 11:15 am

    My house and almost twenty acres of fee land at #1531 Inchelium Hwy is located on the
    Colville Confederated Tribes indian reservation. Please note that it is not the “coalville” as spelled out by you above.
    real estate owner – Gregory Dean Ivans



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