What is the Northport Project?
An environmental health advocacy group and community awareness program created to protect, inform, and provide a voice for the residents of Northport, Washington — many who are suffering similar health issues linked to decades of exposure to Teck Smelter’s pollution of heavy metal toxins.
The Northport Project provides current and past Northport residents with findings, updates, and results from:
- The Teck/ EPA Upper Columbia River Remedial Investigation and feasibility study (RI/FS).
- EPA’s Human Health Risk Assessment (HHRA)
- Ecology’s soil and sediment sampling, and evaluation of air monitoring
- Recreational and residential high priority cleanups
- The ongoing litigation between Teck Smelter, the Pakootas Tribe, and the State of Washington.
Between 2009 – 2011, with the assistance of Northport residents and Citizens for a Clean Columbia (CCC), The Northport Project conducted a community health survey, of both current and past residents. The purpose of this survey was to ascertain if there are clusters of health issues, believed to be caused by the bioaccumulation of heavy metal toxins, related to chronic exposure to smelter pollutants. Of the over 500 surveys returned, several health clusters were observed.
Community Survey Results:
Northport Population: 375 people on average since 1941.
- Thyroid/Endocrine Diseases: 116 (NPP: 36% – GP: 6%)
- Arthritis: 127 (NPP: 40% – GP: .30%)
- Cancers (kidney, pancreas, breast, stomach): 65 (NPP: 20% – GP: pending)
- Brain Tumors/ Aneurysms: 23 (NPP: 7% – GP: 1%)
- Heart Arrhythmias: 8 (NPP: 3% – GP: .5%)
- Parkinson’s/Multiple Sclerosis: 13 (NPP: 4% – GP: .1%<.1%)
- Ulcerative Colitis/Crohn’s Disease: 54 (NPP: 17% – GP: 1.3%)
* NPP- Northport Population Percentage / GP- General Population
The findings of our community health survey caught the attention of Dr. Josh Korzenik, the Director of the Crohn’s and Colitis Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, one of the leading IBD researchers in the nation, and an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School.
In 2011 Dr. Korzenik and his team partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital & Brigham Women’s Hospital to conducted their own in-depth study of the diagnosed cases of Ulcerative Colitis and Crohn’s Disease in current Northport residents only (past residents were excluded).
Their 2011 study concluded diagnosed cases of ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease in the Northport community was 10 to 15 times higher than national standards. This was one of the largest health clusters of these illnesses Dr. Korzenik said he has ever seen.
In 2016 Dr. Korzenik partnered with Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical school to conduct a second study, a more “in-depth epidemiological case-control study,” the doctor said. “The focus is on finding a possible correlation of chronic exposure to specific heavy metals and ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease.” The case study included participants who have been diagnosed with either Crohn’s or colitis as well as participants who have not been affected.
Dr. Korzenik and his team are combining the results of heavy metal data confirmed in Northport residents with another related study of children recently diagnosed with colitis or Crohn’s, to see if heavy metals are a risk factor. He anticipates the study results to be published in 2021.
To attract Universities, Medical Hospitals, and researchers to conduct studies of the multiple health clusters in the community.
The results of these studies can lead to the discovery of causes and/or triggers of these multiple autoimmune diseases. In turn, this could lead to the reevaluation of the current safety levels of industrial heavy metal pollutants, as well as providing data to the medical community that can be utilized for preventive screenings, and possibly lead to ways to cure, or better treat, these illnesses.
Our goal is to raise funding for FREE preventive, annual health screenings, and heavy metal hair element and blood level testing for every resident.
Northport health clusters of specific autoimmune diseases have been linked to chronic exposure to multiple route exposure to low-level heavy metal toxins. The heavy metal toxins of concern are arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury. Teck Smelter has been releasing these toxins into the Columbia River, and Northport’s air, water, and soil for over a century.
Free preventive screenings and testing would monitor the resident’s bioaccumulation of these heavy metal toxins, providing early detection of elevated toxin levels. This could provide early treatment to help prevent more cases of these autoimmune diseases impacting residents
Early detection not only saves lives, but the program would provide research data that could be used to link the accumulation of these specific heavy metal toxins to specific health issues.