Lead and arsenic in the soil in Washington state

I have been transfixed by OPB reporting on contaminated soil in around former apple orchards in Washington:

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.

You can hear the story and associated reporting here, here and here.

Jim

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