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KUOW's environment beat brings you stories on the ongoing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, alternative energy, the health of the Puget Sound, coal transportation and more. We're also partnered with several stations across the Northwest to bring you environmental news via EarthFix.

Contaminated Soil Lingers Where Apples Once Grew

Jennifer Garcia with her daughter, Hannah, 2. Garcia found out the soil in her yard tested high for arsenic. It’s left over from pesticides sprayed before the 1950s on this same piece of land, when it was an orchard.
EarthFix/Lena Jackson
Jennifer Garcia with her daughter, Hannah, 2. Garcia found out the soil in her yard tested high for arsenic. It’s left over from pesticides sprayed before the 1950s on this same piece of land, when it was an orchard.";

YAKIMA, Wash. -- At homes and day care centers throughout Central Washington, children play in yards contaminated with lead and arsenic.

The state’s Department of Ecology knows about this, and has for decades.

But many parents and caregivers still do not, despite the risks these chemicals pose specifically to children.

Until the 1950s, Northwest apple growers spent decades spraying lead arsenate pesticides in a never-ceasing battle against the codling moth, which once threatened the country’s most productive tree fruit region.(1)

That spraying contaminated an estimated 187,000 acres of former orchard lands throughout Washington — an area that exceeds the size of Seattle and Portland combined.(2)

As a result, the soil at hundreds of properties contains levels of lead and arsenic that, through long-term exposure, can lower children's IQs, cause behavioral problems or increase cancer risks later in life.(3)

Washington, unlike many states, has studied and mapped the extent of lead and arsenic contamination.(4 It cleaned up 26 public schools on former orchards.(5)

But the apple industry and politicians resisted efforts to make a bigger issue of contamination on former orchards. Evidence of actual exposures was scant, they said; too much noise about lead and arsenic would hurt the region’s apple growers, they contended.

Meanwhile, the state’s cleanup efforts faded.

Public funds for orchard-era pollution dried up before at least two schools with contaminated soil were cleaned up.(6)  Legislative efforts were blocked.(7Recommended cleanups and exposure studies were shelved.(8)  Awareness campaigns stalled.(9)  Data was lost.(10)  Meanwhile, the contamination lingers and families have been left in the dark.

“Ecology is aware of all this stuff. They have a legal right to enforce this stuff, but they’re choosing not to,” said Frank Peryea, who studied lead and arsenic for decades with Washington State University. He said state regulators have no easy answer for such widespread contamination.

[asset-pullquotes[{"quote": "'I Think They've Failed Children'", "style": "wide"}]]The property developer and the government knew Norm Hepner’s subdivision was contaminated decades before he bought his house. Nobody told him.

Heritage Hills, on the outskirts of Yakima, was built on an old orchard. A private firm tested the property in 1993. Its report to the developer included two samples showing lead and arsenic several times above the threshold the state uses as its standard for cleanups. It recommended “no further action” was necessary.(11)

A concerned local attorney sent a letter to the Department of Ecology, including that report.(12)

But the state never required a cleanup at Heritage Hills. New homes started popping up in the 2000s.(13)  By the time Hepner bought his a few years ago -- not from the developer but from its first owner -- he said high lead and arsenic levels were not disclosed, as state law requires for known soil contamination.(14)

Hepner instead discovered it because, until 2014, he handled toxic cleanups for Ecology. Now retired and working independently, Hepner said his former agency hasn’t done enough to protect children from exposure to lead and arsenic.(39)

“I think they’ve failed children from age 0-5, and I think they’ve failed the general public,” he said.

Map: Washington Counties With Former Orchard Contamination

The map below shows the amount of acres in each county that used to be orchards and are now potentially affected with soil contamination from lead and arsenic in old pesticides. Click on a county for the number of acres.

Source: Washington Department of Ecology

Hepner inverted his soil to bring clean dirt to the surface. He covered parts of his yard in pea gravel or bark.

He said Ecology should ensure those precautions are taken at homes, parks and day cares throughout the region. He contends the state spends too much of its toxic cleanup fund on sites such as ports and retired gas stations, where toxic chemicals exist but vulnerable populations are less likely to come into contact with them.

“They might care, but they don’t care enough,” Hepner said of his former employer. “Because there’s more that they could do.”

Valerie Bound, toxics cleanup manager for Ecology in Central Washington and Hepner’s former boss, does not discredit him or his concerns.

But Bound has a staff of 12 and limited funding for roughly 500 contaminated sites needing attention, she said. Lately, the agency and the Legislature have set other priorities.

“I care. I think we all care,” Bound said. “Does caring translate into money? Does it translate into resources?”

There's more in our report on legacy contamination on former orchards:

Washington law exempts farmers from liability for pesticides they applied legally,(15) so the state cannot force them to pay for cleanup. And subsequent owners of old orchard lands can’t sue them over contamination, either.

Bound said she has not asked for more money for lead and arsenic cleanup, nor does she plan to. She said the public has not pushed for more action.

EarthFix tested multiple samples from 20 residential properties in Yakima and Wenatchee using methods recommended by Ecology. Samples from 15 of those contained arsenic or lead above Washington’s cleanup threshold.(16)  One resident from that sampling was aware of potential lead arsenate contamination.

Interactive: Wenatchee Then And Now

These photos, taken from roughly the same location on Saddle Rock outside Wenatchee, Washington, show the extent of development over the years on what used to be orchards.

Source: Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center

[asset-pullquotes[{"quote": "Do You Enjoy Washington Apples? Thank Lead Arsenate", "style": "wide"}]]It started with the worm in the apple.

At the turn of the 20th century, the codling moth wreaked havoc on Washington’s apple industry.(17)  Orchardists dumped crate after crate of apples that were inedible and rotten to the core with the brown mush of larval excrement.

Without something to control the pest, what’s now the most productive apple growing region in the country might never have been.

“If we were not controlling codling moth, this river would be full of apples floating down it,” said Jack Pheasant, pointing to the Columbia River where it flows past downtown Wenatchee. Pheasant, 76, grew up on an orchard near Tonasket and now owns a 50-acre orchard south of Wenatchee.

“They had no place to dump it, so you’d dump it in the river,” he said.

The introduction of lead arsenate to Northwest orchards in the early 1900s changed that.(18)  The industry flourished with the pesticide in widespread use for decades. Orchardists mixed it and sprayed from wagons. Some pumped it through built-in irrigators.

But by the 1930s, the codling moth grew resistant. Lead arsenate began to lose its effectiveness -- much like Roundup on modern cornfields where weeds became more resistant to the chemical. Orchardists countered this by spraying heavier doses with higher frequency. This lasted for nearly two decades.(19)

[asset-images[{"caption": "A Wenatchee sprayer made by A. D. Browning, Wenatchee. Two men, one with bamboo spray pole, and one small boy sitting on top of sprayer pulled by one horse in a fruit orchard in Wenatchee. Because farmers did not know of the potential toxicity or longevity of pesticides in use at the time, Washington law exempts farmers from being liable for contamination from legally applied pesticides.", "fid": "121505", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201510/20151016-sprayer.jpg", "attribution": "Credit T. GAGNON / COURTESY OF WENATCHEE VALLEY MUSEUM & CULTURAL CENTER"}]]Pheasant remembers watching his father spray continually, starting again at one end as soon as he finished on the other.

“The only way you could protect your apples was by keeping them constantly coated with the material, so that codling moth would hopefully not penetrate,” Pheasant said.

By the late 1940s growers replaced lead arsenate with a chemical known as DDT.(20)  It, too, was later banned because of its harm to human health and the environment. Lead and arsenic do not break down in soil and migrate far less than DDT and other pesticides used since. Anything spilled or sprayed that reached the ground 100 years ago is still within the top foot of soil, said Peryea, professor emeritus at Washington State University’s Tree Fruit Research and Extension Center in Wenatchee.

Peryea spent decades studying lead and arsenic contamination. He served on a state task force studying contamination in 2003 and now calls the state’s inaction in Central Washington “disappointing but not unexpected.”

Peryea said one of the safest ways to handle lead and arsenic in orchard soil is to keep the property in tree-fruit production. That limits children’s exposure. And research has shown the contamination does not transfer from the roots into the fruit.

That has happened more in Oregon. The state has stricter land-use laws for converting farmland to other uses.21 Conversion has happened there, but state officials do not know the extent of contamination. Efforts to study, map and clean up lingering pesticides on converted farmland in Oregon have not been as thorough or as systematic as those in Washington.22

Cleaning up land contaminated with lead arsenate can be costly. Peryea said it has neared $1 million per acre in some cases to excavate, dispose of the contaminated soil and replace it with clean dirt.

There are simple steps to prevent exposure like covering bare dirt, frequent hand washing, leaving shoes outside and gardening in raised beds.

“If I lived in a place that was was an old orchard, I’d be very careful about letting my kids play in the soil,” Peryea said.

[asset-images[{"caption": "Frank Peryea, Washington State University professor emeritus, shows off apples that have been infested by coddling moth caterpillars on an experimental plot at the university’s Tree Fruit Research & Extension Center.", "fid": "121504", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201510/20151016-peryea.jpg", "attribution": "Credit EarthFix/Tony Schick"}]]

[asset-pullquotes[{"quote": "Only 4 Percent of Children Tested For Lead", "style": "wide"}]]Chronic lead exposure does its damage in early childhood. Arsenic’s effects appears later in life. Lead in a child’s blood causes behavioral problems, lowered IQ and stunted growth. Health officials say no level of lead in a child’s blood is safe. Repeated arsenic exposure is linked to heart disease, diabetes and various forms of cancer.(3)

Exposure from soil can happen through either direct or incidental ingestion or through inhalation of soil turned to dust.

A growing body of research across the country points to soil as a prominent cause of lead exposure for children, with some studies concluding it’s a more likely source of exposure than lead paint from old homes.(23)

However, attempts to measure the public health impact from soil contamination in Washington specifically have been inconclusive.

What’s my probability of soil contamination?

In evaluating lead and arsenic contamination from old smelting sites and pesticide use, the Washington Department of Ecology put together a flowchart for determining the probability of contamination on individual properties. Find yours.

Source: Washington Department of Ecology

A study in the Puget Sound region linked arsenic exposure with soil contamination near smelter sites in the 1980s.(24)  Washington Department of Health research in the 1990s found living in Central Washington increases the risk of lead exposure in children, and the agency cited lead arsenate contamination as a possible explanation.(25)

Not enough data exists to determine whether exposure has or has not caused a problems.

“We are concerned that legacy lead exposure from lead-arsenate pesticides may be happening in Central Washington,” said Lauren Jenks, director of the Office of Environmental Public Health Sciences for the Washington Department of Health. “At this time we don’t have the quality of data we would need in order to determine exactly what led to Central Washington counties appearing at higher risk of lead poisoning.”

Those data gaps are due, in part, to the fact that only 4 percent of children in Washington are tested annually for lead exposure, meaning many cases go unseen and trends are difficult to identify with certainty.(26)  Washington had money to survey a few hundred children for arsenic exposure in 2011, but the state has no program for tracking arsenic exposure the same way it does for lead.(27)

Efforts to address lead arsenate contamination can be costly and, on private property, intrusive. Opponents of those efforts have pointed to the lack of proven exposure cases as proof lead arsenate is not a real problem. Likewise, state regulators struggled to raise awareness and support for their efforts without hard evidence of people affected.

[asset-pullquotes[{"quote": "No Eating Dirt Back Here", "style": "wide"}]]

[asset-images[{"caption": "Children play at Rainbow Kidz daycare center in Yakima. The daycare’s owner, Jose Luis Mendoza, wanted to make sure his soil was safe for children, so he added clean dirt. The state Department of Health says children in Yakima are at a higher risk for lead exposure but does not have enough data to answer the question of why. Officials suspect lead arsenate pesticides could be a factor.", "fid": "121503", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201510/20151016-children2.jpg", "attribution": "Credit EarthFix/Lena Jackson"}]]Not knowing any better, Jennifer Garcia did one of the few things you are definitely not supposed to do if your soil contains high levels of lead or arsenic. She planted a vegetable garden for her kids.(28)

A lifelong resident of the Yakima area, she knew the house she and her husband, Ivan, and their two children moved into five years ago was likely built on an old orchard. But she didn’t know that meant her soil was contaminated.

“I knew they’ve been making developments in old orchard areas,” Garcia said. “I wondered if there was any type of contamination, but had hoped, or had assumed, that it would be healthy. That they would take care of that.”

EarthFix took four samples from Garcia’s yard. Each one showed arsenic above the state cleanup threshold of 20 parts per million. Lead levels were above the natural background levels, indicating some remnants of pesticides, but were below cleanup thresholds. One of those high arsenic levels came from her side yard, a patch of bare, dusty dirt where Garcia planted pumpkins, tomatoes and cucumbers for her kids.

On a warm day in early September her children, Noah, 6, and Hannah, 2, played in the backyard, throwing dirt and rocks.

“No eating dirt back here, guys,” she told them after learning of the sample results.

Garcia sent Noah off to school for the first time this year. She knows she can’t eliminate risk for her children. But she’d like to control what she can. And she knows there are some steps she can take to prevent arsenic exposure.

She said she’s disappointed more isn’t being done to raise awareness or clean up residential properties. In Puget Sound, where smelter emissions left similar lead and arsenic contamination across nearly 400,000 acres, the state has a significant outreach program, with a van, on-air commercials and mascots like Sudsy Sally and Digger the Dog. Residents there can search their address for contamination and cleanup information.

For former orchard contamination, Ecology has an online brochure and a list of schools cleaned up.

“I think that it’s an important thing that people need to be educated about and know,” Garcia said. “If there was concern enough that they’re working on public schools. Well, if that’s a concern, then I’d think you’d spend just as much time -- your little ones, especially, at home."

[asset-pullquotes[{"quote": "Disclosure Goals Unmet", "style": "wide"}]]Steven Kelley wanted people like the Garcias to know when they bought a home and on old orchard.

Kelley is a real estate agent who previously lived in the Wenatchee area and served as co-chair of the state’s 2003 task force on lead and arsenic contamination.

He brought to the Washington Association of Realtors the task force’s recommendations calling for more disclosure, training for Realtors and educational newsletters.(29)

The association’s endorsement of those recommendations was seen as vital to winning approval in the state Legislature and persuading local Realtors to put them into practice.

But Kelley said he was never given the opportunity to present them.

“I was livid, obviously,” he said.

Washington now requires disclosure for vacant land the same way it does for residential homes. Some local Realtors say they use voluntary environmental disclosure forms that mention orchards.(30)

Representatives from the Washington Association of Realtors said they could not confirm Kelley’s version of events.

Many items on the 12-year-old list of recommendations from the state’s task force remain unfulfilled. Among them:

Bound, the cleanup manager for Ecology, said that at one time lead and arsenic cleanup carried a lot of momentum. Now, she said she is unsure whether Ecology will revisit it.

“Things ebb and flow. When I first started here, that was all people wanted to talk about. It was a large part of what I worked on,” she said. “I don’t think we have -- we haven’t solved the problem. I still think it’s an issue.”

[asset-pullquotes[{"quote": "Concerns About A Repeat Of The Alar Scare", "style": "wide"}]]

[asset-images[{"caption": "Old Central Washington apple labels hang in the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center. The Apple industry is a crucial part of life in Central and Eastern Washington, and many feared an overreaction to lead and arsenic contamination would hurt apple growers.", "fid": "121501", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201510/20151016-apple-labels.jpg", "attribution": "Credit EarthFix/Courtney Flatt"}]]Bound’s agency faced resistance on lead arsenate before the statewide task force report was ever published.

Politicians east of the Cascades opposed testing, fearing too much noise about lead and arsenic would cut through the industry like the Alar scare in 1989, when a report by CBS’s 60 Minutes called the growth- and color-enhancing chemical a dangerous carcinogen and public reaction cost the industry millions.(31)

Many in the region feared an Alar repeat, a decline in property values, or just a whole lot of taxpayer money being spent to clean up soils when actual exposure cases were not well documented.

In 2002, Jim Clements, then a state representative from the Yakima area, called lead arsenate a “phantom issue” and successfully halted Ecology’s plan to ask 100 Yakima-area property owners’ permission to collect soil samples.(32) When the task force published its report in 2003, one task force member from the apple industry refused to sign it.(33) Another task force member called it a “waste of money.”(34)

In 2005, a bill moved through the Washington Legislature that would have enacted some of the key recommendations, including mandatory testing for child care centers. When introduced, the bill explicitly mentioned lead arsenate pesticide and applied to the entire state. When the bill finally passed, all references to pesticides were removed and it pertained only to lands west of the Cascade mountains, where only a small fraction of Washington Apples are grown.(7)

Dave Upthegrove, then a state representative from Des Moines, sponsored the bill. He said lawmakers in Eastern Washington opposed the bill, citing their fear of a repeat of the Alar scare. Upthegrove said passing a statewide bill was too big of a political hurdle.

“You don't know how much I appreciate the amendment you put on this bill,” Clements, a longtime orchardist and former Washington State Apple Commissioner, told his colleagues in the Washington House of Representatives before before the bill passed.(35)

In a recent interview, Clements said he remains convinced there is no evidence lead arsenic posed a risk.

“My grandmother, my family, my extended families, my wife and I raised our children on these orchards,” he said. “They played in the dirt, they played in the soil. We had gardens, we had fruit trees of every sort. And there wasn’t anything that would ever indicate there was a problem.”

[asset-pullquotes[{"quote": "Part Of Your Job Is To Take Care Of It", "style": "wide"}]]

[asset-images[{"caption": "Children play at Rainbow Kidz daycare center in Yakima. The daycare’s owner, Jose Luis Mendoza, wanted to make sure his soil was safe for children. “Little kids, under six years, where ever they are playing, they put it in their mouth. They are exploring,” Mendoza said.", "fid": "121499", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201510/20151016-children.jpg", "attribution": "Credit EarthFix/Lena Jackson"}]]Jose Mendoza wanted his child care center’s soil tested more than Ecology wanted to test it.

Mendoza owns Rainbow Kidz early learning center, with several locations in and near Yakima.

Because Rainbow Kidz is east of the Cascades, laws requiring day care testing for soil contamination never applied.(36) But he wanted to know.

“It’s very important to know: how safe is our area? Especially for this age of kids. They’re playing, and they put everything in their mouths,” Mendoza said. “So if we start something healthy here, at the center, they’re going to be more healthy for later on.”

That’s why Mendoza helped arrange for Department of Ecology project manager Jeff Newschwander to visit the Rainbow Kidz Yakima facility. When he arrived, Newschwander wanted to make sure Mendoza knew what he was in for.

“If you find out that you do actually have some of the old pesticide contamination here … ” he said. “At that point you do have an obligation, if you were ever going to sell the property, for example, that …”

“Uh huh.”

“... you need to let people know,” Newschwander said.

This is the disincentive that deters testing: State law says licensed day care operators who become aware of lead or arsenic in the soil must take action to prevent child exposure.(37) Beyond that, disclosure of contaminated soil could complicate selling or borrowing on the property in the future without proper cleanup, which is also cost prohibitive.

Wenatchee and Yakima, two hotspots for lead and arsenic, have a combined 340 child care centers.(38)

Ecology has no money to help people like Mendoza pay for cleanup. That puts the agency in a difficult position -- do nothing, or require the property owner to undertake a potentially costly cleanup.

“I don’t want to create a problem for you without being able to help you solve it,” Newschwander told Mendoza.

[asset-images[{"caption": "Jeff Newschwander tests soil at a childcare center in Yakima. He runs the soil through an X-Ray Fluorescence machine, which can provide near-instantaneous readings. Newschwander tests soil and directs school cleanups for the Washington Department of Ecology.", "fid": "121498", "style": "placed_wide", "uri": "public://201510/20151016-newschwander.jpg", "attribution": "Credit EarthFix/Lena Jackson"}]]What Newschwander didn’t know is Mendoza already had his soil tested.

A graduate student tested it about a year ago. The results prompted him to buy new dirt and grass to cover about 10 yards in his backyard. He said it cost him roughly $1,000.

He wanted to know if it worked.

With a long metal tube resembling a giant blood-draw needle, Newschwander extracted a column of dirt from Mendoza’s lawn. He ran it through an X-ray fluorescence machine, which can provide near-instantaneous readings. Contamination from the deepest sample, taken about 10 inches down, hovered near the state’s cleanup levels. Shallower soils were well below those levels.

“By you doing what you’ve done and having clean dirt on top, you’ve done exactly what we’d want you to do,” Newschwander told him.

Mendoza asked if Ecology could give a presentation to fellow day care owners. Many are afraid to spend money, he said, but they need to be educated.

“Part of your job is to take care of it,” Mendoza told him. “And part of my job is to have safe and a clean environment for my students.”

Newschwander nodded.

“So that is the reason as a team we have to get together,” Mendoza said.

“I agree,” he said.

Reported by Tony Schick and Courtney Flatt. Written by Schick. Audio produced by Flatt. Video produced by Flatt and photographed/edited by Lena Jackson. Soil testing by EarthFix was paid for through a grant from the Fund for Environmental Journalism.

1. A 1906 bulletin from Washington State University on methods to control the codling moth states that the pest moth caused damages in the Yakima Valley near a quarter of a million dollars at the time. Source: The biology and history of the codling moth and its management:

2. Estimate from Washington Department of Ecology reports, which rely on peak historical acreage in apple and pear tree production during 1905-1947. Pg 19:

3. CDC fact sheets for arsenic:, lead:

4. Washington, New Jersey and Wisconsin are three states that have convened task forces to address area-wide soil contamination on former orchard lands. More from Environmental Health Perspectives:

5.The Washington Department of Ecology cleaned up schools in Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan and Yakima counties. List of schools and parks:

6. Ecology Central Washington toxic cleanup director Valerie Bound said the fund for former orchard school cleanups is empty. Two schools in the Yakima school district were found with contamination and were slated for cleanup but never finished. Many schools outside of Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan and Yakima counties have not been tested despite thousands of acres potentially affected.

7. In 2005, a bill that required soil testing at child care facilities passed the legislature only after Eastern Washington lawmakers forced a change in the scope of the bill to exclude their region. Bill history:

8. Washington's task force on area-wide soil contamination recommended schools, parks, camps and daycares conduct evaluations of the likelihood of exposure, sample soil if necessary, and cleanup the soil based on sample results. Additionally, the report stated "The Task Force felt so strongly that additional information on the health of Washington residents who may be exposed to elevated levels of arsenic and lead in soil is needed that it offered this recommendation to the Department of Health approximately mid-way through the Task Force process." Read more: pg. 52,

9. Washington's task force says awareness materials, to be effective, "must be targeted for specific audiences and must be accompanied by outreach and follow-up. Ongoing outreach is particularly important because it is likely that elevated levels of arsenic and lead in soil will remain at many properties for many years. Neither ongoing outreach nor evaluations of existing efforts are under way.

10. Washington's task force recommended "the maps regularly to improve their precision and developing local maps of area-wide soil contamination where such maps do not exist (primarily for areas affected by lead arsenate pesticides)," among other items listed on pg. 12: However, in response to a public records request, an official with the Department of Ecology wrote "We have researched to figure out where the maps came from. What we have discovered is the maps were prepared by Landau and Associates they were the contractor for the project. Therefore Ecology does not have the “GIS Database” that was used to create the maps, therefore we cannot produce any responsive records for your request."

11. 1993 site assessment of Heritage Hills:

12. Letter alerting the Department of Ecology to lead and arsenic levels at Heritage hills:

13. A list of properties can be found through a search for Heritage Hills through the Yakima County Assessor,

14. The environmental section of required disclosures asks "Are there any substances, materials, or products in or on the property that may be environmental concerns, such as asbestos, formaldehyde, radon gas, lead-based paint, fuel or chemical storage tanks, or contaminated soil or water? (emphasis added). Source:

15. The Model Toxics Control Act states "The following persons are not liable under this section:" ... and in that, includes "Any person who, for the purpose of growing food crops, applies pesticides or fertilizers without negligence and in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations." Source:

16. Washington's cleanup threshold for area-wide soil contamination is an average arsenic level of 20 parts per million or an average lead level of 250 parts per million. Source:

17. The biology and history of the codling moth and its management:

18. According to a 1906 bulletin from Washington State University on methods to control the codling moth states that the pest moth caused damages in the Yakima Valley near a quarter of a million dollars at the time. Source:

19. A 1935 issue of the Farmers Bulletin states that "Because of the increasing difficulty of controlling the codling moth, heavier and more frequent applications have been made." Source:

20. EPA factsheet on DDT

21. The Oregonian: "Hood River study shows land-use laws working", Source:

22. The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality issued a guidance on soil contamination in 2006 (, but interviews with cleanup managers at the agency, independent subject matter experts and the Department of Agriculture revealed that Oregon's extent of contamination is unknown. Recently a library in Tigard, Oregon, was discovered to have arsenic contamination and cleanup was required.

23. Howard Mielke, a leading researcher on lead exposure, has published reviews that show lead in soil (in his cases most often from leaded gasoline residue) are of greater importance than lead based paint to the child lead problem, and that soil lead is a more important pathway of exposure than leaded paint. Sources:; Studies elsewhere have linked seasonal spikes in child blood lead levels with leaded soil turned airborne dust, which also had experts positing that soil lead is an overlooked threat, and potentially more important than leaded paint. Source:

24. The study found that "Among all age-sex-specific groups in all areas, only children ages 0–6 living within one-half mile of the smelter had elevated levels of arsenic in urine. A separate analysis of data for these children suggests that hand-to-mouth activity was the primary source of exposure." Source:

25. The Department of Health published this in the following report: One DOH study in 2005 focusing on Hispanic children stated these findings: "We estimated that 3.7% (95% CI: 1.3–10.2) of 1- to 2-year-old Hispanic children in central Washington had elevated blood lead levels, significantly higher than all other children in the state (RR 5.8, 95% CI: 1.3–24.9)." Source:

26. In 2008, the state convened a panel on efforts to improve surveillance for lead exposures. At the time, fewer than 1 percent of eligible children were tested, meaning the number of tested children has gone up significantly in the past seven years. Source:

27. According to the state, " The biomonitoring project was more survey than surveillance and included 120 children ages 6-11 and 166 children ages 12-19. The survey was designed to be a representative sample for Washington State in 2011. There was a separate arsenic study done in South Whidbey Island that was meant to be targeted at a high risk group instead of representative of the state." More can be found about the program here:

28. A gardening guide created by Washington State University recommends using raised beds, growing only oranmental plants, putting a barrier over the contaminated soil, or fencing it off from children. Source:

29. The full list of recommendations related to real estate can be found on pg 5 of this document:

30. Example form used by the firm Windermere in Wenatchee, Washington:

31. The Columbia Journalism Review argues "There was indeed an overreaction to the 60 Minutes report, as viewers confused a long-term cumulative threat with imminent danger. But Alar is a potent carcinogen, and its risks far outweigh its benefits." Source:

32. Confirmed by Clements via interview. Further reading:

33. Stated in the report, "One Task Force member participated in the process but chose not to sign the final report because of concerns over recommendations dealing with funding future mapping projects and the potential economic impact of creating area-wide soil contamination zones." Source:

34. Michael Wearne, who represented banking interests, felt the study's findings were duplicated elsewhere, and that it was a waste of money..Source:

35. Audio of house floor debate:

36. State law required Ecology to test for soil contamination at day cares "west of the crest of the Cascade mountains to reduce the potential for children's exposure to area-wide soil contamination." Source:

37.State law for child care facilities requires: "The licensee must take action to prevent child exposure when the licensee becomes aware that any of the following are present in the indoor or outdoor licensed space: (1) Lead based paint; (2) Plumbing containing lead or lead solders; (3) Asbestos; or (4) Arsenic or lead in the soil or drinking water; (5) Toxic mold; or (6) Other identified toxins or hazards." Source:

38. List provided by the Washington State Department of Early Learning.

39. Hepner has pushed the issue of lead arsenate before. When school officials in Selah, Washington, resisted testing several years ago, he asked students and teachers to do it instead as a class science project, though that effort never fully materialized. Hepner is now suing the state over his ability to work for schools he helped while with Ecology, challenging the department’s claim that it presents a conflict of interest.