2022-2026 ACTION AGENDA EXPLORER

STRATEGY 8

Toxic Chemical Pollution

Prevent pollution by promoting the development and use of safer alternatives to toxic chemicals and improving regulatory frameworks and incentives.
Aquatic life and people in the Puget Sound Basin are exposed to thousands of chemicals every day from a wide variety of human activities, both past and present. From common household goods like furniture and electronics to industrial mainstays like paint, electrical wiring and caulking to pesticides, automotive chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and personal care products like shampoo, our world is awash in toxics. These toxics make their way across jurisdictional boundaries and into the ecosystem and have detrimental effects on both humans, particularly people of color, and wildlife. The impacts of some of these chemicals are well known while for others, such as Chemicals of Emerging Concern (CECs), the impacts are less well known.

This strategy will alleviate the levels and effects of toxic contaminants in Puget Sound aquatic life and people and promote the development and use of safer alternatives. This strategy centers on creating incentives, programs, and regulations for the removal of the primary legacy sources of Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)
(for example, old building materials), Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) (for example, creosote pilings), and Polybrominated Diphenyl Ethers (PBDEs) (for example, flame retardants), and would promote the use of safer alternatives. The incentives for removal focus on locations where these efforts are likely to have the greatest reduction of toxic impacts to marine species and protect disproportionately impacted vulnerable populations and underserved communities. Implementing the Toxics in Fish, Shellfish and other Implementation Strategies supports the success of this strategy.
DESIRED OUTCOMES
  • Reduce toxics entering Puget Sound
  • Reduce inequitable health outcomes
Actions

Promote the development and use of safer alternatives to toxic chemicals. (ID #42)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Educate decision-makers, suppliers, and consumers on gaps and limitations of existing state and federal regulations;
  • Increase the identification, use, and demand for safer alternatives;
  • Incorporate material health in building construction and renovations (LEED-type design);
  • Pass state, regional, or federal legislative reform to prevent toxics and protect vulnerable populations and underserved communities.

Prioritize, prevent, and manage (regulations, permits, and incentives) chemicals of emerging concern. (ID #43)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Identify, prioritize, and monitor chemicals of emerging concern (CECs) (including integration of human health risk and thresholds);
  • Expand agency capacity to accelerate planning and regulatory actions;
  • Increase capacity for technical assistance to the regulated community;
  • Develop voluntary programs to prevent, remove or treat CECs (including 6PPD-Q, pharmaceuticals, micro- plastics, and other emerging toxic contaminants) and avoid regrettable substitutions;
  • Improve our understanding of the potential co-benefits of wastewater treatment approaches to remove toxic contaminants, including pharmaceuticals personal care products, and other CECs.

Increase product testing for compliance with consumer and environmental safety rules. (ID #44)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Increase capacity and funding for product testing;
  • Identify human health risks and exposures, including cumulative impacts
  • Expand capacity through collaborative partnerships;
  • Increase efficiency of screening tools to identify priority areas for toxic clean-up.

Develop and implement programs that incentivize, remove, or replace toxic laden products with safer alternatives, and ensure proper disposal of toxic products. (ID #45)

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Expand partnerships with businesses and explore market-based programs;
  • Identify funding for and initiate product replacement programs;
  • Support green chemistry programs;
  • Initiate product stewardship and producer responsibility programs.
Implementation Considerations

Human Wellbeing

     

Climate Change

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 to integrate human wellbeing considerations in efforts to prevent pollution include:

 

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 to integrate climate change responses in efforts to prevent pollution include:

  • Build support for a precautionary approach to toxic chemical regulation, socialize protective regulatory approaches, and improve residents’ understanding of connections between toxic chemicals and impacts.
  • Engage communities, specifically tribal nations, vulnerable, and underserved, to identify and address disproportionate chemical exposures through consumption of local foods (for example, fish, shellfish, and game) and other pathways.
  • Develop pollution prevention outreach campaigns in multiple languages with existing groups and residents to promote safer products and reduce the use of products with toxic chemicals.
  • Fund and promote the use of community-based processes that meaningfully engage tribal nations, Indigenous communities, and vulnerable populations and underserved communities to identify priorities for place-based pollution prevention and ecosystem recovery.
  • Ensure engagement with tribal nations and vulnerable populations and underserved communities during chemical action planning (governance).
  • Account for information on vulnerable populations and underserved communities in chemical action planning and toxic chemical regulation.
  • Support local municipalities and counties with the implementation of preferred purchasing programs and communicate the benefit and value for regional outcomes.
 
  • Center climate change equity and justice considerations in parallel with pollution prevention efforts. Consider and address disproportionate impacts on vulnerable populations and underserved communities.
  • Strategies should emphasize goals for equitable outcomes and look to close the racial and social equity gaps regarding the impacts of toxics on vulnerable populations and underserved communities.
  • Consider the potential to promote both the toxic chemical reduction and greenhouse gas emissions reductions benefits of reducing vehicle miles traveled in single occupancy vehicles.
  • Identify and remediate upland sites that may be a source of contaminants to adjacent water bodies if flooded by extreme high-water events.
What We're Measuring

We are achieving our recovery goals of healthy human populations, healthy water quality, and thriving species and food webs by reducing the presence of priority toxic chemicals and chemicals of emerging concern in upstream sources, including consumer goods; using source control, management, and remediation tools to remove toxics in infrastructure and building materials; and ensuring that levels and patterns of pollutants in surface waters do not threaten the health of Puget Sound communities or vulnerable populations. Indicators of success include:

Contaminants in adult salmon
Contaminants in caged mussels
Contaminants in English sole
Contaminants in juvenile salmon
Contaminants in Pacific herring
Number of pollution prevention visits to small businesses conducted by local jurisdictions

The contaminants in adult Chinook salmon indicator measures levels of two toxic contaminants, PCBs and PBDEs, in edible muscle tissue (fillet) of maturing Chinook salmon that reside in Puget Sound. Levels of PCBs and PBDEs in resident Chinook salmon indicate the amount of these contaminants to which humans and other predators like Southern Resident killer whales may be exposed to when eating these salmon, as well as potential impairments to salmon health that may limit their recovery.

Contaminant levels of PCBs and PBDEs in edible muscle tissue (fillet) of resident Chinook salmon from 8 marine areas (MAs), each noted by a unique color, roughly representative of major oceanic basins. Red indicates high contamination, with some salmon (5th percentile or greater) exceeding the human health threshold for that contaminant. Green indicates low contamination, with most salmon (95th percentile or more) below the threshold for that contaminant.

This indicator reports on toxic contaminants in Puget Sound's nearshore, intertidal habitats. Uncontaminated mussels are translocated to nearshore locations for a set time period to measure the uptake of chemicals from nearshore waters. This will enable understanding of contaminants in nearshore habitats and whether our actions to prevent and reduce these contaminants are working.

Contaminants in caged mussels
By:

No reported data available

The contaminants in English sole indicator measures chemical concentrations in fish fillets and disease occurrence in fish to assess impacts of contaminants in the benthic (seafloor) habitat. PCBs and PBDEs in fillets indicate contaminant levels people may be exposed to from eating benthic fish. Liver tumors and the presence of a female-specific protein, vitellogenin, in the blood of male fish indicate health impairments due to PAH and EDC exposure, respectively, in the benthic habitat.

Contaminant and disease levels in English sole from 12 index sites. For contaminants, red indicates high contamination, with some English sole (5th percentile or greater) exceeding the health thresholds and green indicates low contamination, with most English sole (95th percentile or greater) below the thresholds. For PAH- or EDC- related disease, red indicates significantly higher risk of disease compared to baseline, whereas green indicates no significantly elevated risk.

The contaminants in juvenile salmon indicator reports the levels of two toxic contaminants, PCBs and PBDEs, in the whole bodies of juvenile Chinook salmon migrating seaward to Puget Sound and the Pacific Ocean. Levels of PCBs and PBDEs in juvenile Chinook salmon are a measure of inputs of known contaminants of concern to freshwater, estuarine and nearshore marine habitats (river systems), potentially harmful to salmon and other species in these habitats, likely reducing their survival.

Contaminant levels in juvenile Chinook salmon from 11 river estuaries and Lake Washington in 2016. Red indicates high contamination, with some salmon (5th percentile or greater) exceeding the fish health threshold. Green indicates low contamination, with most salmon (95th percentile or more) below the threshold. Trends data is pending for a selected number of sites. Mean percent impervious surface is used here as a proxy for degree of land development.

The contaminants in Pacific herring indicator currently tracks the concentration of PCBs and PBDEs in the whole bodies of herring. The levels of these persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in herring signal not only harmful concentrations in this species, but also the extent of contamination in the pelagic food web. POPs threaten the health of herring and other forage fish, the health of the fish, wildlife and humans who consume them, and the overall productivity of the pelagic habitat.

Contaminant levels in 5 herring stocks from 1999 to 2018. Red indicates high contamination, with some herring (5th percentile or greater) exceeding the fish health threshold for that contaminant. Green indicates low contamination, with most herring (95th percentile or more) below the threshold for that contaminant. Arrows indicate time trends: upward (increasing trend), downward (decreasing trend), or horizontal (no significant trend).

This is a candidate progress indicator that would track the number of pollution prevention visits to small businesses conducted by local jurisdictions. This indicator is under development.

Number of pollution prevention visits to small businesses conducted by local jurisdictions
By:

No reported data available