Necessity of Air Monitoring in Northport, WA
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 autoimmune diseases their parents and grandparents had?
Below is a Summary of Ecology’s Northport Air Quality Studies, Phases I – IV, (1992-1998).
Reference the agencies acronyms and safety level to understand results:
Ecology / EPA Acronyms & Levels
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.
- Arsenic ASIL: .00023 micrograms per cubic meter (ug/m3)
- Cadmium ASIL: .00056 ug/m3
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 RSC: 0.0023 ug/m3
- Cadmium RSC: 0.1164 ug/m3
Ecology’s Phases I – IV Air Monitoring Results
PHASE I RESULTS:
- 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.
- Maximum arsenic level detected: .25 ug/m3
- Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels
- Cadmium is as not monitored in Phase I monitoring
PHASE II RESULTS:
- 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…”
- Maximum arsenic level detected: 0.1164 ug/m3
- Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC
- Maximum cadmium level detected: .0474 ug/m3
- 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 RESULTS:
- Nov. 3, 1993 – Aug. 6, 1994
- One monitoring site – located 3 miles NE of Northport on “Paparich”
- Metals evaluated – lead, arsenic, cadmium
- Arsenic maximum yearly average: .12 ug/m3
- Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase III
- Cadmium maximum yearly average: .04 ug/m3
- Cadmium exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC levels in phase III
PHASE IV RESULTS:
- Sept. 5, 1997 – Dec. 31, 1998
- Three monitoring sites in Northport
- Metals evaluated – arsenic, lead, cadmium, zinc
- Arsenic maximum yearly average: .02 ug/m3
- Arsenic exceeded EPA’s ASIL and RSC Levels in phase IV
- Cadmium maximum yearly average: .01 ug/m3
- 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.
Ecology’s 2017 assessment of past air monitoring done in the area concluded that new, strategically placed, long term air monitors are needed in and around Northport to ensure the safety of residents.
The EPA ignored Ecology’s assessment recommendations, and recently agreed with Teck that no air monitoring is necessary in Northport at this time
Ecology continues to fight for the community by trying to obtain funding to install air monitors in and around Northport.