Washington Department of Ecology news
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE -
Jan. 11, 2013
Latest chemical action plan
supports enhancing current programs OLYMPIA - Polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons (PAHs) are a group of more than 100 different chemicals
that are toxic to organisms, including humans. The state departments of
Ecology (Ecology) and Health have released a Chemical
Action Plan (CAP) that addresses uses and releases of PAHs
PAHs usually occur as complex
mixtures. They are found in natural substances like oil and coal. They
are formed during incomplete burning of organic material such as coal,
oil, gas, wood, garbage, tobacco and meat. PAHs are released during
such common activities as burning wood and driving cars.
PAHs are widespread in
Washington's environment. They are toxic to organisms, including
humans, and they are found in people. Studies have linked PAHs to
cancer, reproductive problems and weakened immune systems.
CAP found the
largest man-made sources of PAHs to the environment are from
wood-burning stoves, creosote-treated wood, and vehicle emissions,
including tire wear, improper motor oil disposal and leaks. For most
individuals, the largest exposures to PAHs are from food and smoking,
with a lesser contribution from air emissions.
Washington has current programs
in place to address these areas of concern. In the CAP, the agencies recommend these programs can
be enhanced to improve or speed up results; major new programs are not
needed. Existing programs include removing creosote-treated pilings and
education and outreach campaigns on wood burning, vehicle drips, engine
idling, and smoking.
Important work is happening
already to reduce and prevent the presence of PAHs in the environment.
Ecology is working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
and the Puget Sound Partnership to carry out priorities in the
Partnership's Puget Sound Action Agenda - the single playbook for
prioritizing and focusing recovery and protection efforts for
government entities and scientists, environmental groups, and business
and agricultural organizations across a 12-county region.
Ecology has funded projects
through a competitive EPA grant to prevent, reduce and control toxic
chemical and nutrient pollution to Puget Sound.
awarded the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency $334,000 to expand the wood
stove replacement program in Pierce County. The project provides
incentives for households to remove or replace high-polluting
(uncertified) wood stoves, replacing them with cleaner wood-burning
devices or non-wood heat sources.
Also, the Washington Department
of Natural Resources (DNR) received a $500,000 grant from Ecology to
remove creosote-treated pilings to reduce PAH and improve habitat in
Hood Canal. DNR will remove hundreds of derelict pilings, including an
abandoned train trestle in Quilcene Bay.
with recommendations concerning wood smoke and creosote-treated wood
and other products, the PAH CAP includes
proposals to address vehicles and human health.
Ecology's Puget Sound Toxics
Assessment is a multi-year, multi-agency effort to understand where
toxic chemicals come from, how they get to Puget Sound and the
potential harm they cause to people, fish and other creatures. It
identified creosote-treated wood, wood smoke and vehicle exhaust as key
sources of PAH contamination in the region. The assessment
pointed to increasing efforts to remove creosote-treated wood from the
water and shoreline as a priority action to reduce toxic threats to
In 2006 Ecology adopted a rule
to begin reducing or phasing out persistent, bioaccumulative toxic
(PBTs) chemicals, a distinct group of chemicals that threaten the
health of people and the environment. These types of chemicals are the
"worst of the worst" because they:
* Remain in the environment for
a long time without breaking down (persistent).
* Accumulate in the bodies of
people and animals, moving up the food chain, increasing in
concentration, lingering for generations (bioaccumulate).
* Have been linked to a wide
range of toxic effects in fish, wildlife and humans, including on the
nervous system, reproductive and developmental problems, cancer, immune
suppression, and endocrine disruption.
The focus of Ecology's PBT work
is to prepare and carry out Chemical
Action Plans (CAPs). Previous CAPs have been completed on mercury, PBDEs
(polybrominated diphenyl ethers, used as a flame retardant), and lead.
A multi-year plan lays out a schedule for future CAPs. In October 2012,
Ecology issued an amendment to the schedule to begin work on
polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) as the next CAP.
Kathy Davis, Ecology media
relations, 360-407-6149, firstname.lastname@example.org
Holly Davies, Waste 2 Resources
Program, 360-407-7398, email@example.com
For more information:
PAH Chemical Action Plan
PBT Initiative website:
NEP Toxics/Nutrients Grant
Puget Sound Toxics Assessment
Ecology's Saving Puget Sound
Ecology's social media:
Department of Ecology's Home Page: http://www.ecy.wa.gov