A recent study shows that communities on Seattle's Duwamish River Valley are exposed to the highest levels of pollution in King County. Residents in the neighborhoods most impacted, including Georgetown, South Park and portions of Beacon Hill, are more likely to suffer from pollution-caused illnesses and have a lower life expectancy rate than those in other areas of the city, the study found.
looked at ten Seattle ZIP codes, and examined the effects of continued exposure to toxic substances like air pollution and contaminated soils. Things like percentage of tree canopy and the amount of public parks space per resident were also considered. Non-environmental factors known to make people more susceptible to illness were factored into the study as well, including stress, poverty and lack of health insurance.
They found the average life expectancy in Georgetown and South Park, where heavy industry and residential neighborhoods are interwoven, is 73.3 years, eight years shorter than the Seattle average and 13 years shorter than residents the affluent Laurelhurst community.
According to the Duwamish Cleanup Coalition
and Just Health Action
, who released the report, Seattle's southern ZIP code 98108 has the greatest number of contaminated waste sites and the poorest built environment characteristics of all areas studied. The area is tied with Eastlake (98102) for the most severe air pollution.
The report comes as the EPA rolls out a $305 million cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish. The proposal would remove contaminated sediment in the river and reduce PCB contamination, in addition to other work. Data in the new report could help inform cleanup decisions moving forward.
The EPA is accepting public comment and holding public hearings through June 13. Check out duwamishcleanup.org
for more information or to get involved in the cleanup and restoration efforts.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons