Research Highlight: Studying Tumor Suppressor Genes to Develop New Cancer Treatments

Chris Kemp is working to develop more effective, less toxic cancer treatments through genetic research. 

Cancer is a disease that, in one way another, impacts all of our lives. One in two men in the US are at risk of developing cancer, and one in four are at risk to die of cancer.  For women, the risk of developing cancer is one in three; the risk of dying from cancer is one in five.1 In 2013, nearly 1.7 million people in the US were diagnosed with cancer; over 580,000 died. More than 13 million people in this country are living with cancer .2

Cancer develops through a complex multistage process. Environmental damage over time increases the likelihood of genetic mutations, which can eventually cause cells to multiple continuously, leading to cancer. During this process, a number of genetic and environmental factors influence whether the cells affected by genetic mutations develop into cancer cells.

Researchers are working to understand the environmental causes of human cancer, the underlying mechanisms by which these environmental causes act, and the genetic factors that help determine how an individual reacts to various environmental exposures.

One such researcher is CEEH Environmental Mutagenesis & Carcinogenesis ARE (Area of Research Emphasis) Leader Dr. Christopher Kemp. Dr. Kemp runs a lab at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. His work focuses on the genetic and biological basis of cancer and on developing more effective, less toxic cancer treatments.

Dr. Kemp uses functional genomics to discover the biological function of genes, and high-throughput screening (an automated process to test the biological activity of a large number of compounds) to systematically test large numbers of genes. He is searching for which genes cancer cells need in order to survive. These genes are weak points that could be attacked with drugs to selectively kill the cancer cells.

Recent research in Dr. Kemp’s lab focuses on a tumor suppressor gene called ARF. This gene has been found to suppress a devastating lung cancer, non-small-cell lung carcinoma (NSCLC). In 2013, Dr. Kemp led a study that found that ARF plays a role in suppressing multiple parts of NSCLC growth and progression. His team exposed genetically engineered mice that lacked the ARF gene (Arf -/-) to the cancer-causing chemical urethane. They found that the Arf -/- mice had shorter lives and higher morbidity from lung tumors than did control mice (Arf +/+ and Arf +/-) .3

The team’s findings suggest that the ARF gene functions as an early defensive response to lung tumors by creating a barrier against tumor growth and malignant progression.

Kemp’s team also used Arf -/- mice exposed to urethane to study the role of ARF in a deadly liver cancer, hepatic haemangiosarcoma. The findings suggest that lack of the ARF gene is one cause of this liver cancer. The ARF pathway, the series of actions among molecules in a cell that makes a new molecule or turns genes on or off, may be a new molecular target to treat patients with this deadly cancer .4

Chris Kemp’s research has convinced him that science is close to making big progress against cancer. He says, “I’m more optimistic than ever before.”
  1. http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancerbasics/lifetime-probability-of-developing-or-dying-from-cancer
  2. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/all.html
  3. Busch SE, Moser, RD, Gurley KE et al. ARF inhibits the growth and malignant progression of non-small-cell lung carcinoma. Oncogene (2013), 1-9.
  4. Busch SE, Gurley KE, Moser RD, Kemp CJ. ARF suppresses hepatic vascular neoplasia in a carcinogen-exposed murine model. J Pathol. 2012 Jul; 227(3): 298-305.

Research Highlight: Diesel Pollution in South Seattle

©2013 clipart.com
The residents of the Georgetown and South Park neighborhoods in Seattle’s Duwamish Valley now know how much diesel exhaust they are exposed to, thanks to the University of Washington School of Public Health and Puget Sound Sage, a nonprofit coalition in Seattle.

A large volume of traffic travels through these South Seattle communities due to nearby highways, industry, train routes, and the Port of Seattle. Sixty percent of neighborhood residents surveyed in 2009 by Puget Sound Sage believed pollution from commercial trucks affected the health of their families. Long-term occupational exposures to high concentrations of diesel exhaust have been linked to respiratory and cardiovascular health problems as well as cancer.

“Residents were most concerned about commercial truck traffic. They see these trucks travel through their neighborhoods every day. They wanted us to monitor pollution levels where people lived,” said Dr. Julie Fox, a researcher in the UW Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at the UW School of Public Health.

It was in response to community concerns and support from the Kresge Foundation that the University of Washington School of Public Health partnered with Puget Sound Sage to help residents measure levels of diesel exhaust in the two neighborhoods.

"We were able to develop a much more refined understanding of exposure—and the impacts of various sources of exposure--for this area of the city. Using the skills and expertise from UW scientists to respond to community concerns, we were able to provide detailed community-level data on pollutants that are markers of diesel exhaust," said Dr. Fox.

Researchers collected data over a two-week period in summer 2012 and winter 2012-2013 on primary pollutants that serve as markers of traffic-related air pollution. They are 1-nitropyrene, a polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon that is a by-product of combustion from diesel engines; black carbon, and particulate matter less than 2.5 μm in diameter.

The researchers also compared these measurements to pollutants measured in residential sites in Queen Anne and Beacon Hill, which are located atop hills and have less commercial truck traffic.

Results indicated that residents of South Park and Georgetown are likely exposed to higher levels of diesel exhaust than residents of the Beacon Hill and Queen Anne. Also, within the two Duwamish Valley neighborhoods, pollution levels varied, even across small areas, and residents near busy roads and industrial areas faced higher levels of diesel exhaust pollution.

Other UW Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences researchers involved in the DEEDS study include CEEH Deputy Director Dr. Joel Kaufman, Jill Schulte (MPH, 2013), Dr. Sheryl Magzamen, a former postdoctoral research scientist, and Nancy Beaudet, of the UW Occupational and Environmental Medicine Clinic.

A report on findings from the DEEDS study are published online.

-- Elizabeth Sharpe, Marilyn Hair




A Trip to the Elwha - Part 7, Freeing a River

© Jon Sharpe, 2013
(Continued from Part 6 of this series, "A Perfect Storm of Opportunity.")

The Elwha River is flowing free, but the restoration project is ongoing. As of this writing, repairs continue at the Elwha Water Facilities Project, clogged with sediment since April. Deconstruction of the Glines Canyon Dam is delayed until the Water Facilities Project is repaired, to prevent the river from transporting the huge amount of sediment trapped behind the remaining portion of that dam.


Current updates are posted on the National Park Service Dam Removal Blog. The updates below were posted on August 6, 2013. Also, check out the Elwha River Restoration on Facebook.


Sediment

The river continues to erode sediment downstream, even during the low flow of the dry summer months. In some locations the river has eroded the sediment down to the original riverbed. A sediment team is conducting monthly aerial surveys of the Elwha River to monitor erosion and re-deposition of the sediment.

Re-Vegetation

In March, Elwha re-vegetation crews sowed 1,400 pounds of native plant seeds in the lakebeds of former Lake Aldwell and Lake Mills. Crews surveyed the sites planted in 2012 with native species and found a 97% survival rate for 6 species studied. The highest mortality rate was 36% for Douglas fir seedlings; the lowest mortality rate was 1% for black cottonwood. In August, crews are planting 41 additional plots in the lake beds and collecting data on ground cover and species abundance.


Vegetation grows on the lakebed of former Lake Aldwell. Re-vegetation crews have planted native seeds on the former reservoirs.

Fish
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is installing a fish weir on the river downstream of the former Elwha Dam site. The state will use the weir to count and collect fish as part of a multi-agency effort to monitor the influence of dam removal on salmon and steelhead returns to the river, and to minimize harm during the dam removal to the federally-listed, threatened steelhead and Chinook.

Beach

The plume of sediment coming out of the mouth of the Elwha continues to change and shape the beach. The sediment is forming sandbars and large pools where none were before.

A 2012 National Park Service Elwha River Restoration handout reads: The returning salmon and restored river will renew the culture of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe who have lived along the river since time immemorial. Tribal members will have access to sacred sites now inundated by the reservoirs. Cultural traditions can be reborn. 


The last stop on my Environmental Health Field Trip was at  the Lower Elwha Gallery & Gift Shop in Port Angeles where I bought a children's board book, Sharing Our World, Animals of the Native Northwest Coast. One page reads, "Salmon have always been our most important food source. We can protect salmon by keeping our rivers and oceans clean."


The river will never be the same as before the dams, but the habitat is improving and the fish are coming back. The Elwha is on its way to becoming what dam-builder Thomas Aldwell described over 100 years ago, "a wild stream crashing down to the Strait".


Thank you for reading. Here are some resources to help you take your own environmental health field trip to the Elwha River.
- Marilyn Hair


Sources:
Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe Facebook page 
Mapes, Lynda. Elwha A River Reborn. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books, 2013.

A Trip to the Elwha: Part 6, A Perfect Storm of Opportunity

© Jon Sharpe, 2013

(Continued from Part 5 of this series, "It's About the Salmon.")

The Elwha Dam flooded 700 acres of the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe's ancestral homeland, including the sacred creation site of the Klallam people. When the dam began generating electricity, the tribe couldn't afford to buy it. For decades, the tribe lobbied for dam removal. Many tribal members never believed the dams would be taken down.

An opportunity arose in 1986 when the license for the Glines Canyon Dam came up for renewal. The tribe filed a motion to intervene with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), asking for relicensing to be denied and calling for both dams to be taken down. Environmental advocates joined the cause and took the issue to the federal level.

A number of factors favored dam removal. For one, the dams were illegal. First, neither of the dams had a fish ladder, and, second, one of the dams was in Olympic National Park. Park boundaries expanded after Glines Canyon Dam was built in 1927 and the dam and its reservoir, Lake Mills, were now within park boundaries. The Dept of the Interior, parent agency of the National Park Service, joined the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and environmental groups, claiming that FERC didn't have jurisdiction in the national park.


Salmon in the fish ladder at the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Seattle, a great place to see the fish up close as they migrate. © Jon Sharpe, 2013.

Meanwhile, the Electric Consumers Protection Act of 1986 required FERC to consider fish and wildlife protection and enhancement equally with power production and economic need. Accordingly, FERC issued an environmental impact statement in 1991 that showed it would cost less to remove the dams than to add fish ladders to meet current environmental standards.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee drafted legislation to buy the dams (Dept of the Interior bought the dams in 2000 for $29.5M) and invited the James River Corporation. then owner of the dams, and Daishowa America, owner of the paper mill, to agree to dam removal in exchange for Interior's agreement to pay for it. The mill was also guaranteed cheap electricity from the Bonneville Power Administration to replace the electricity from the dams. With industry support, the Elwha Restoration Act was signed in 1992. But it wasn't funded.

Many Port Angeles residents still were opposed to removing the dams. Some wanted to honor the technological achievement of building the dams; workers had given their lives to construct them. The dams produced cheap electricity and some felt they should be left to do what they were built to do. Residents and visitors used the beautiful reservoir lakes for fishing and recreation. One said - It's a source of electricity that works. It's nice to see the lakes there. I'd just say No to salmon, it's not a vital food, it's a luxury. A citizens group called Rescue Elwha Area Lakes (REAL) formed to lobby legislators to repeal the Elwha Restoration Act.

US Senator Slade Gorton opposed taking out the dams. He also controlled federal funding for dam removal. It was only after a counter group, the Elwha Citizens' Advisory Committee, supported a staged removal of the dams that Gordon budgeted funds for the Department of the Interior to buy the dams. Washington Rep. Norm Dicks secured the funding to remove them. Dicks introduced 14 separate appropriations bills over 4 administrations and secured federal stimulus dollars. Mitigation projects to secure community support for the dam removal included a new state-of-the-art water treatment plant for Port Angeles. The final price tag for the Elwha River Restoration was $325 million, three times the original projection. Water quality facilities and operation for Port Angeles cost $178 million. Actual dam removal and ecosystem restoration amounted to $61 million.

Even with a perfect storm of opportunity, twenty years passed from enactment of the Elwha Restoration Act in 1992 to the beginning of dam removal in September, 2011. And now it's underway, this magical opportunity to restore a river that runs out of a pristine national park. Removing the dams and freeing the Elwha is a unique chance to restore a river and its salmon runs.

Next in Part 7, the final post in the series: The Elwha River Reborn


Source:
Mapes, Lynda. Elwha A River Reborn. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books, 2013.

A Trip to the Elwha: Part 5, It's About the Salmon

© Jon Sharpe, 2013

(Continued from Part 4 of this series, "The Challenge of the Sediment.")

It is because of the salmon that the Elwha dams are gone. Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal members had wanted the dams removed long before they petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) not to relicense the Glines Canyon Dam in 1986. (The Elwha Dam was never licensed).

Before the Elwha Dam was built, the Elwha River was home to ten fish runs, and that's no fish story. All five Pacific salmon species - sockeye, pink, chum, coho, and chinook - as well as steelhead and bull trout returned to the Elwha to spawn. Fish swam up and down the river all year long. The chinook were monstrous, spending as long as 7 years at sea and growing to 100 pounds. Tribal elder Louisa Sampson recalled that there were so many salmon on the Elwha you could walk across the river on their backs. Today, the Elwha sockeye are extinct, the pink are nearly gone, and chinook, steelhead and bull trout are protected by the Endangered Species Act. The steelhead run amounts to 100-200 fish, and the chinook catch is limited to ceremonial use.

The Elwha chinook are called tyee which means chief. They have continued their autumn return for 100 years, but their efforts have been futile because the migration was blocked by the Elwha Dam. The habitat in the 5 miles of river below the Dam became unsuitable for spawning since it lacked the gravel, pools, side channels and riffles, (rocky shoals or sandbars just below the water's surface) the fish need to build a nest. Before the dams were removed, the chinook would swim to beneath the Elwha Dam and hang in the water, or line up facing the dam as if they were waiting for a passage to open. Many thousands died unspawned at the base of the dam. Bringing back the tyee is what the Elwha River restoration is about. It is happening, in part at least, because of native fishing rights.

The Lower Elwha Klallam tribal crest is painted on the side of their Tribal Visitor and Community Center. The tribe's motto is "The Strong People".

The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe was once the largest tribe on the Olympic Peninsula. Beginning in the 1850's, white settlers pushed the Indians off their village sites where the Port Angeles waterfront is today. Tribal members supported themselves by subsistence fishing and selling fish to the townspeople. That worked until 1910 when the river was dammed and Washington State game wardens began to arrest and jail tribal fishermen for fishing in the Elwha. In 1935 when federal land agents came to Port Angeles to appraise farms for the purpose of acquiring 3840 acres for a reservation, the assistant land negotiator wrote that tribal members survived by beach combing, unable to compete with the fishing industry and prevented by state Fish and Game laws from catching enough fish for their own food. The report states, "A dam on the Elwha River, owned and maintained by a pulp company, has ruined the spawning grounds of the trout and salmon." The tribe did not get their reservation until 1968. It amounts to 372 acres.

In 1974, the Boldt Decision of the US District Court ruled that the 1855 Treaty of Point No Point in which the tribes ceded their land, reserved tribal fishing rights in perpetuity. This meant that tribal members were entitled to fish the Elwha River and other traditional fishing areas in Washington without being harassed. It was a huge victory for the tribes. But now that they were guaranteed the right to fish, the habitat was degraded and the runs were dying. There were few fish in the Elwha.

Beatrice Charles was one of four Lower Elwha Klallam women elders who testified before the US Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in 1992. She said, "I would like to see the dams removed while I'm still alive." Later that year, the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act was enacted. Final approval didn't come until 2004, following an agreement between the National Park Service, City of Port Angeles, and the tribe. Dam removal began on September 15, 2011. Beatrice Charles is buried in the tribal cemetery on Place Road, near the mouth of the Elwha. Her tombstone reads, "In loving memory of our Auntie Bea, May 14, 1919 - April 20, 2009."

The young tribal member staffing the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal gift shop in Port Angeles told me that Beatrice Charles was his fiancée's Auntie Bea. He was hopeful about the Elwha restoration: "They say that in five years, the fish will come back. And that will be good for the tribe."

Next in Part 6 of this Story: A Perfect Storm of Opportunity


Source:
Mapes, Lynda. Elwha A River Reborn. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books, 2013.

A Trip to the Elwha: Part 4, The Challenge of the Sediment

© Jon Sharpe, 2013

(Continued from Part 3 of this series, History of the Elwha River Dams)

A river carries cobbles, gravel, silt and logs along its length. These materials build the riverbed, side channels and gravel bars, providing fish and animal habitat. A river is in constant motion.

The Elwha River dams interfered with the river's lifecycle, blocking the natural flow of materials from the mountains to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Lacking replenishing sediment, habitat degraded in the 5-mile stretch of river between the Elwha Dam and the Strait. Salmon runs declined precipitously. As sand disappeared from the beach, so did the clams and the swimming holes. The Strait chewed back the shoreline and since 1939, 22 acres of land has been lost to coastal erosion at the river delta. On the reservation, coastal erosion ranged from 125' to 500' of shoreline. Ediz Hook, a spit that shelters Port Angeles Harbor, created from sand carried by the Elwha, eroded from lack of river sediment and been artificially maintained by the US Army Corps of Engineers since 1974.

Before the Elwha River restoration began, 24 million cubic yards of sediment - silt, cobble, sand, gravel, and boulders - was trapped behind the two dams. It was enough to fill 8 Safeco Fields to the top of the roof. It would be by far the largest volume of sediment ever released in a dam removal project. How to manage a controlled release of sediment was the biggest challenge of the Elwha restoration.

An Environmental Impact Assessment estimated it would cost $22 million to dredge and slurry the sediment to the Strait. This was not practical; the river would have to carry the sediment. But it had to happen gradually, to prevent the river from digging through the soft mud and leaving a moonscape of unnatural, dangerous cliffs. Scientists wanted the river to meander through the sediment on the reservoir lake beds, sluicing it like a fire hose, and shaping the river in stepped-down terraces. To do this, the river had to be lowered gradually, by first by emptying the reservoirs, then removing the dams from the top, a few feet at a time.

In July 2011, the reservoirs behind both dams were drawn down. The Elwha Dam, closer to the river mouth, was removed first, beginning in September, 2011. The water level was allowed to drop gradually as the spillways, penstocks (pipes that carried water to the powerhouse), and powerhouse were removed. 200,000 cubic yards of fill was removed from behind the dam to excavate the original river channel.

The taller, narrower Glines Canyon Dam was removed by lowering Lake Mills by 17 feet, to the bottom of the spill gates, then removing the first 17 feet of the dam to the new water level. Dam removal continued by taking out notches on alternating sides of the dam and gradually lowering the water level. The headgate house, penstock, and powerhouse were removed. The spillway and a massive concrete block called the thrust block will remain as viewing platforms for the restoration project. The project will be stopped for up to 6 months of the year to protect migrating fish in the lower river. Scientists built the models for restoring the river, but would nature do what scientists expected?

The Elwha sluices sediment as it finds a new channel on the lakebed of former Lake Aldwell. Iron is precipitating in red streaks on the riverbank as it is exposed to air.

As predicted, the sediment has been the biggest challenge of the restoration so far. In April 2013, nearly 200,000 chinook smolts were released from the state fish hatchery. The morning after the release, hundreds of dead smolts were found at the river mouth and sandbars, their gills clogged with sediment. The turbidity or amount of sediment in the water had doubled shortly after the fish were released. The salmon suffocated. The habitat manager for the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe said he thought few of the smolts made it into the Strait. The Clallam County Fish and Wildlife biologist said, "We'll try not to make the same mistake." The hatchery planned to release 900,000 juvenile salmon in June. I expect they did since the rearing pens were empty when I visited.

Also in April, with two-thirds of the Glines Canyon Dam removed, the sediment overwhelmed the new Elwha Water Facilities Project, built by the Department of the Interior for the city of Port Angeles in 2011. Removal of the final section of the upper dam is on hold until the Water Facility is fixed, and most likely until next spring after the fish migration. It's estimated that the river has carried just 18% of the sediment downstream so far. Most of it is waiting behind the last 60 feet of the Glines Canyon Dam.

The Elwha carries glacial flour as it flows into the former Lake Mills. Lake Mills was as deep as the treeline.

I began my river tour at its muddy mouth, so it was striking to see the glacial, teal color of the Elwha at the south end of former Lake Mills. That stretch of river was always beyond the reach of the dams. Where it traverses the lakebeds and dam sites, the river is brown with sediment. That sediment is depositing gradually along 13 miles of the river, from Lake Mills to the beach. The habitat is recovering. Where the Elwha meets the Strait, the rocky beach is covered with sand and a sandbar splits the river as it pours into the Strait. Just a few weeks ago, the sandbar wasn't even there. All this change, from just 18% of the sediment.

Next in Part 5 of this Story: It's About the Salmon - The Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe


Sources:
Mapes, Lynda. Elwha A River Reborn. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books, 2013.




A Trip to the Elwha: Part 3, History of the Elwha River Dams

© Jon Sharpe, 2013

(Continued from Part 2 of this series, "A River Restored.")

Port Angeles was a frontier town in 1890 when Thomas Aldwell arrived. Before then, the Klallam people had lived richly in the Elwha watershed for centuries. Their Tse-whit-zen burial site has been carbon dated to 1500 BCE.

Aldwell was a developer who saw the potential for industry in Port Angeles, which was surrounded by forests, everflowing rivers, and a deep harbor. Aldwell decided that Port Angeles needed a paper mill. And a paper mill needed electricity. Aldwell staked a claim on the Elwha River. He began talking up plans to build a dam, signing power purchasers at a steel mill in Port Townsend, the Bremerton Navy Yard, Fort Worden and Fort Flagler. Then he signed up Chicago investors. The resources were vast and excitment was high over the promise of industrial development on the Olympic Peninsula. The river was just waiting to be put to productive use. Aldwell was a local hero.

Construction began on the Elwha Dam, 5 miles from the mouth of the river, in 1910. The dam began to produce electricity in 1914. The reservoir that collected behind the dam and flooded the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe's sacred creation site was named Lake Aldwell.

Although fish ladders had been required on dams in Washington since Washington was a territory, the Elwha Dam never had a fish ladder. The State fish commissioner offered to allow the dam without a fish ladder in exchange for a hatchery; the dam would even serve as an obstruction where fish could be captured for the hatchery. In exchange for being allowed to build the dam, Aldwell agreed to build the hatchery and donate the land to the state. But the hatchery soon failed, the state turned its back on the fish, and Aldwell never turned over the land. In 1919, Aldwell sold the dam to Zellerbach Paper Company and Zellerbach built the Washington Pulp and Paper Company. The paper mill underwent many changes of ownership; today it is owned and operated by Nippon Paper Industries of Japan.

Nippon Paper Industries USA is located on Ediz Hook in Port Angeles. It was the first paper mill in Port Angeles and was powered with electricity from the Elwha and Glines Canyon Dams.
The second dam, Glines Canyon Dam, was built 8.6 upriver from the Elwha Dam. This dam was completed in 1927 by Northwestern Power and Light Company, the successor to Aldwell's Olympic Power and Development Company. It was built to power the expanded Zellerbach paper mill. Zellerbach bought the dam in 1937. The reservoir behind Glines Canyon Dam was named Lake Mills.

The Elwha dams were built during the heyday of dam building in Washington. Industrialists were busy developing nature for profit, and the state and public supported their efforts. Ecological impacts and the native people and culture were overlooked. Unbelievably, the Zellerbach mill was built atop Tse-whit-zen, the ancient Klallam village and burial ground at the foot of Ediz Hook. At the height of development, there were 3 paper mills and over a dozen large industrial facilities in Port Angeles. The only industry that remains today is the Nippon mill.

The Zellerbach - now Nippon - paper mill owned both dams from 1937 to 2000, when they were sold to the US Dept of the Interior. Since 1949, the only customer for the electricity the dams produced has been the mill. Until the dams were shut down in 2011, the Elwha River dams had supplied 40% of the mill's electricity. The rest came from the Bonneville Power Administration grid.

Next in Part 4 of this series: The Challenge of the Sediment

Sources:
Mapes, Lynda. Elwha A River Reborn. Seattle: The Mountaineers Books, 2013.
Museum at the Carnegie, Clallam County Historical Society.


A Trip to the Elwha: Part 2, A River Restored

© Jon Sharpe, 2013

(Continued from Part 1 of this series, "The Journey Begins.")

I began my tour at the end, the mouth of the Elwha River where it meets the Strait of Juan de Fuca. I went at low tide because I'd heard that sediment trapped behind the dams for 100 years was being carried downriver and turning the rocky shore into a sandy beach. It looked like a typical Pacific Coast Beach to me. Although the river seemed swift and muddy, I wouldn't have known what an extraordinary event I was witness to.

A large sandbar divided the river at the Strait. A pair of retired men walking on the beach told me that a month ago, the sandbar wasn't there. Long-time residents of Port Angeles, they had been against taking out the dams. But now that it's happened, they're excited by how the ecology of the river is changing. The Elwha is muddy because it's carrying the sediment from the upper river to the beach, the estuary, the near-shore bottom land, and eventually 2 miles east to Ediz Hook, the sandspit that shelters Port Angeles harbor. The sediment is rebuilding the beach and the shore and providing needed habitat for salmon and shellfish.

I drove south, tracing the Elwha upriver. Hwy 112 crosses the river via the Elwha River Bridge. The Olympic Discovery Trail traverses the river by a walkway suspended under the bridge, The state fish hatchery and the Elwha Water Facilities Project are on the east side of the bridge. The hatchery rearing ponds were empty, the juvenile salmon having already been released. This Water Facilities Project was built for the city by the National Park Service and includes a water treatment plant and other features to protect the quality and availability of water from the Elwha for municipal and industrial use. It was expressly built to stave off possible adverse impacts of dam removal on the city's water supply. Ironically, it is closed right now because it is clogged with river sediment from the dam removal. In fact, deconstructing the last 50 feet of Glines Canyon Dam is held up until the Water Facilities Project is up and running.

Continuing up the river, I hiked a short trail from a parking lot off Hwy 112 to an overview of the Elwha Dam site. It would have been an impressive view of the dam, close enough to hear the turbines. All that remains is a bare hill and the river.

My next stop was the Former Lake Aldwell Access, former site of a boat launch, where I actually walked on the lakebed. The kayak rental and boat ramp were remnants of the old fishing and recreation destination. Now a sign warns, No Boating. The river is low and cloudy, with sticks and logs below the surface that make it dangerous. There's no fishing on the Elwha either, to give fish runs a chance to recover. I walked out onto a plain of stony rubble, scrub grass, buttercups, and old stumps. After a half-mile hike, I heard, then saw, the river cutting a new channel. Streaks of red - precipitated iron - and green - algae - stained the many side channels. How amazing to stand in a place that was underwater for 100 years. There is a beautiful cedar house on the bluff which must have had an expansive view of Lake Aldwell. I'm guessing the owners weren't happy when the lake disappeared. Retracing my steps, the terrain looked the same everywhere and I was glad to find the boat ramp and my car.

The beginning of the hike down to see where Lake Mills used to be.

Driving farther up the Elwha Valley, I found the picturesque, unstaffed Elwha Ranger Station, dropped my National Park Entrance Fee in the box, and turned onto remote Whiskey Bend Road (wondering how it might have gotten its name). From there it was a 5-mile drive on a single-lane, unpaved road winding uphill through the forest, then a steep half-mile downhill hike on the Upper Lake Mills Trail to the Former Lake Mills Overview of the south, far end of what was long, narrow Lake Mills. The overview was 15 feet above the river; the sign warning that the riverbank is unstable was punctuated by a clump of alders hanging horizontally over the dropoff. The narrow lakebed extended as far as I could see, full of stumps and gravel, with a long streak of iron staining the riverbank. The height from river to treeline must be 30 feet, the depth of the former reservoir. The Elwha rushed downhill in two channels that met on the lakebed, and there were sandbars where the river traversed the lakebed. The Elwha wasn't muddy here; I was upstream of where the dams were; the color of the river was a glacial teal.

The next thing I wanted to see was the Glines Canyon Dam, but it is closed until dam removal is complete, projected to happen by September 2014. A chain link fence covered with black plastic was installed along Whiskey Bend Road at the dam overview and there was nowhere to pull over safely to try to peek through. The National Park Service brochure Elwha River Restoration includes a map showing sites on the river and spots in Port Angeles where I found lots of helpful information.

The Elwha River restoration is all about the saving the salmon. The key to saving the salmon is restoring their habitat. This means spreading the fine sediment a few inches thick for nine miles along the Elwha, from the upper dam to the Strait. This kind of restoration has never been done on such a scale. It's a huge experiment. Scientists built computer models of what they thought the river would do as the dams came down, but would their predictions happen? Already the state-of-the-art water treatment plant is clogged with sediment and thousands of juvenile hatchery salmon have been killed because of poor water quality - twice. I wondered, after my first day visiting the Elwha, "What will happen next?"

Next, in Part 3 of this story: How did we get here? The History of the Elwha River Dams.

A Trip to the Elwha: Part 1, The Journey Begins

©2013, Jon Sharpe

I've been following the saga of the Elwha since a chance trip through Port Angeles 15 years ago. Back then I saw highway signs announcing that the Elwha Dam was going to be removed. That surprised me because Washington is so proud of its hydropower. I've been following the story ever since. In my current role as Outreach Manager for an environmental health research center, I spend a lot of time talking to people about the connection between our environment and human health, including the importance of a healthy diet. Salmon is an incredibly good source of nutrients, but like many other types of seafood, it also can be contaminated by industrial pollutants, making people wary of eating too much of it. For many Indian Tribes in the PNW, salmon is much more than a dietary staple - it is an integral part of their spiritual beliefs and a member of the their extended family. Given all these connections between salmon and human health, it seemed like a field trip to the Elwha was in order. I visited the area between June 24th and 27th, 2013.

The source of the Elwha is deep in the Olympic Mountains, pristine because it's protected by the Olympic National Park. It flows north for 45 miles to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The mouth of the river is adjacent to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribal Reservation just west of Port Angeles.

The Elwha Dam was built in 1910 by an enterprising developer named Thomas Aldwell who wanted to bring electricity to the frontier town of Port Angeles. The town and even the state were enthusiastic supporters of the dam and the logging and paper factories that were built when the dam began supplying electricity. The reservoir that collected behind the Elwha Dam was called Lake Aldwell. A second dam, Glines Canyon Dam, was built upstream in 1926 to meet the rising demand for electricity. The reservoir that collected behind Glines Canyon Dam was called Lake Mills.




The saga of the dam removal began in 1986 when the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe and others petitioned for the removal of both Elwha River dams. The US Congress passed the Elwha River Ecosystem and Fisheries Restoration Act in 1992. In 2000, the US Department of the Interior purchased the dams. Dam removal began on September 15, 2011. The Seattle Times newspaper covered the story and recently published a book about the Elwha restoration. In June, I had the opportunity to return to Port Angeles and the Elwha River. This is the first installment in a series of posts about what I saw and learned on my "environmental health field trip" to the Elwha.



Marilyn Hair visits the beach at the mouth of the Elwha River. The sandbar in the background is newly formed from sediment carried by the river from the former dam sites.


Next, in Part 2 of this story: The Restoration of the Elwha River.


Research Highlight: Air Pollution Can Turn Good Cholesterol Bad


© 2013, Jupiterimages
Exposure to diesel exhaust may render friendly, cholesterol-fighting molecules incapable of performing their important job. A new study suggests that the traffic air pollutant may prevent good cholesterol from battling the bad, artery-clogging cholesterol that promotes heart attack and stroke.
The study’s team included environmental health scientists led by Michael E. Rosenfeld, Director of the Cardiovascular Toxicology Area of Research Emphasis at the Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health, and heart disease specialist Jesus Araujo and colleagues in the Division of Cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Their paper, published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, is the first to report that exposure to diesel exhaust from combustion engines can alter the protective nature of normal high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, and set in motion biological mechanisms that lead to cardiovascular disease.
Mike Rosenfeld
Photo Courtesy of Sarah Fish
Best known for its ability to scavenge harmful “bad” cholesterol from blood vessels and excrete it from the body, HDL is also an antioxidant powerhouse. Set against bad cholesterol — low-density lipoprotein or LDL — HDL blocks oxidation, a process that induces inflammation in the blood vessels and leads to the hardening of arteries, Rosenfeld explained. But that’s not all. An additional virtue of HDL’s “goodness” lies in its ability to prevent inflammation caused by white blood cell patrols honing in tissues antagonized by air pollution particulates.
All of this adds up. Scoring high levels of HDL in blood tests has generally been accepted as protective against cardiovascular disease. Higher levels of HDL mean less risk of heart attack and stroke. That is, until now. 
Researchers found that exposure to diesel exhaust led to the loss of the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the HDL. 
“It turned the good cop into a bad cop,” said study co-author Timothy Larson, UW professor of environmental and occupational health sciences.
HDL normally performs protective functions, but if the molecules are exposed to pollution, they lose their protective quality.
In the arm of the study completed at the UW, mice were exposed to diesel exhaust over a two-week period at levels comparable to those we encounter everyday. The lab is one of the few in the country that can accurately simulate ambient air pollution exposures in a controlled environment. Results of the mice’s exposure were compared to a control group that received only clean filtered air. In a second experiment, a third group was exposed to diesel exhaust for two weeks and filtered air for an additional week. Researchers wanted to assess whether a week was sufficient time for the HDL to return to normal.
“What was really surprising: the one week of recovery time was not sufficient,” said Rosenfeld. “This has some pretty significant implications for how exposure to air pollution can impact development of cardiovascular disease. Even short-term exposures to pollution can have pretty long-term effects.”
The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health, supported the research through grant number R01 ES016959/ES/NIEHS.
- Elizabeth Sharpe, Communication Director, DEOHS
This article originally appeared in UW Today, May 29, 2013

Research Highlight: Are Chinese Factory Workers at Risk from Exposure to Nanoparticles on the Job?

© 2013, JupiterImages

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UW DEOHS PhD candidate Ling Cui defended her dissertation, entitled Exposure Assessments and Inflammatory Responses Among Workers Producing Calcium Carbonation Nanomaterials, on May 15. Her dissertation committee included Center members Harvey Checkoway and Michael Yost (Co-Chairs), Sverre Vedal, and Noah Seixas.

The goal of Ms. Cui's research was to find out whether exposure to nanomaterials during manufacturing results in any adverse health effects. The research took place at the Calcium Carbonate Nanoparticle Factory in Shanxi, China. The nanoparticles manufactured there are used in plastics, ink, and adhesives.

Ling Cui
A nanoparticle is any particle that has at least one dimension equal to or smaller than 100 nanometers. One billion nanometers equals one meter, which puts these particles on the scale of atoms, molecules, and, in living organisms, of DNA and proteins. Their small size allows them to be inhaled deep into the tiny air sacs, or alveoli, of the lungs. Possible health effects of exposure to calcium carbonate nanoparticles include oxidative stress, fibrosis, and inflammation. Ms. Cui stated that workers, consumers and the environment are all at potential risk.

Ms. Cui studied workers who had various roles in the manufacturing of the calcium carbonate nanoparticles. She collected personal samples from workers and area samples from inside and outside the factory. She found that the job with the highest exposure to individual nanoparticles in terms of number and surface area was the modification job in which workers modify the surface of the particles. There was also high exposure in workers who bag the nanoparticles in terms of mass concentration. She observed during her study that some portion of the tiny particles don't settle out of the air and disperse evenly throughout the factory. As a result, many workers might share similar exposure, despite the fact that their jobs are different.

Four biological measurements were used to measure response to nanoparticle exposure: FEV1 (amount of air exhaled in 1 second); Blood Pressure; Exhaled Nitrous Oxide (a marker of inflammation); and sputum biomarkers (proinflammatory cytokines circulated in the lungs). She discovered some of these cytokines were significantly elevated in the high exposure group compared to the low exposure group.

Wearing personal protective equipment was not mandatory for the workers, but some workers wore them voluntarily. Ms. Cui observed that a few workers wore medical masks. Workers in the bagging area, the dustiest area of the factory all wore dual-cartridge half-mask respirators offered by the factory, but they were not replaced frequently enough.

Ms. Cui reported that the factory workers are mostly content with their jobs and turnover at the factory tends to be relatively low. Older workers have lower job turnover than younger workers. Workers in the study had been in their jobs for an average of 6 years.

Ling Cui's research was supported in part by a pilot project grant from the Center for Ecogenetics and Environmental Health. We congratulate her on a job well done!



Event Highlight: CEEH Co-Hosts Educational Workshop on the Duwamish River Superfund Cleanup Proposal

EPA Representative Allison Hiltner answers questions during the Q&A following the presentations, © 2013, J Sharpe

The CEEH and the UW Superfund Research Program (UW SRP) filled the Allen Library Research Commons on April 29th; attendees included UW students and staff, a Duwamish tribal member, staff from EPA, Ecology, the City of Seattle (representing the Lower Duwamish Waterway LDW Group), and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC). 70 people listened to EPA, Ecology, the LDW Group, and DRCC representatives give their perspectives on EPA's Duwamish River Superfund Cleanup Proposal. Each presenter was given 5 minutes. To assure that each group had equal time, the audience applauded them off the podium when their 5 minutes was up.

You can view videoclips of the presentations on the UW SRP web sitePhotos from the event are also available on Flickr.

Participants listen to panel presentations.
In 2001, a 5.5 mile long stretch of the lower Duwamish River was declared a federal Superfund Site. It is one of the most toxic hazardous waste sites in the United States. 41 different toxicants contaminate the river; the contaminants of highest concern are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins and furans, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs), and arsenic. The contamination is in the river bottom sediment.

Six of the most contaminated areas were designated as Early Action Cleanup Areas. These include Slip 4 near the former Boeing Plant 2; Terminal 117, site of former businesses Duwamish Manufacturing and Malarkey Asphalt Company; Boeing Plant 2 where B-17 bombers were manufactured during World War II; Jorgensen Forge; Duwamish Diagonal, upstream from Harbor Island; and Norfolk Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) near the south end of Boeing Field.

Cleanups at Slip 4, Duwamish Diagonal, and Norfolk CSO have been completed.

EPA considered active cleanup options ranging from cleaning up from 32 to 302 acres of contaminated sediment. The estimated cost ranged from $210-$810 million. On Feb 28, 2013 EPA released their recommended plan, proposing to:
  • Actively clean up 156 acres of contaminated sediment, including:
  • Dredging 84 acres (54%) to remove contaminated sediment
  • Capping 24 acres (15%) of contaminated sediment with clean material such as sand
  • Pursuing enhanced natural recovery on 48 acres (31%) of contaminated sediment by covering it with 6-9"of clean material, and possibly add activated carbon 
  • Monitoring the natural recovery of 256 additional acres, watching to see whether cleaner sediments are deposited from upriver to sequester contaminated sediment 
Including the Monitored Natural Recovery brings the the total cleanup area to 412 acres. The estimated cost of the Proposed Cleanup Plan is $305 million. Active cleanup would take 7 years. Monitored Natural Recovery would take an additional 10 years.
Dredging is the most thorough and most expensive cleanup method, and monitored natural recovery is the least thorough, least expensive, and least certain method. EPA estimates this cleanup plan will reduce the risk associated with eating contaminated fish and shellfish by 90%.

The Washington State Department of Ecology is responsible for source control and has developed a strategy to mitigate and prevent pollution from upstream roads, residences, farms, forests, and industry from entering the Duwamish River. Upstream source control must be completed before the Superfund Cleanup begins, to prevent new pollution from recontaminating the river.

Kelly Edwards moderated the event.
At the meeting, the representatives had different perspectives on the cleanup. EPA feels they have done a thorough study and that their cleanup proposal will bring about a good cleanup in a reasonable time frame. Ecology stressed the complexity and the importance of preventing upstream pollution from recontaminating the river. The LDW Group feels the EPA goals for how clean the river can be are unachievable since industry will continue on the river, pollution will enter from upstream no matter how good the source control, and Puget Sound itself has pollution. The Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, on the other hand, feels the cleanup proposal doesn't go far enough to assure a thorough cleanup that is certain to last. They feel strongly that the cleanup should be done right so it doesn't have to be done again down the road.

All the presenters encouraged everybody to make a public comment by June 13th. The comment period is already half over, and this is the only chance for the public to speak up and influence the EPA's Cleanup Plan. EPA must answer all the comments in a public document.

The Duwamish is Seattle's only river, home to 2 historic neighborhoods, South Park and Georgetown, and fishing grounds of the Duwamish, Suquamish, and Muckleshoot Tribes. Seattle and King County residents will help pay for the cleanup through our tax dollars. Now is the time to tell EPA what you think about the Proposed Cleanup.

Event Highlight: 2013 NIEHS EHS Core Centers Meeting

Steve Curwood, Host of PRI's Living on Earth, speaks at the Public Forum, © 2013 M. Levin

The CEEH was privileged to host the annual meeting of the NIEHS-Funded Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers in Seattle, April 17-19. The program included Scientific Symposia and sessions for Center Directors, Administrators, and Community Outreach and Engagement Cores (COECs). Howard Frumkin, Dean of the UW School of Public Health welcomed participants to Seattle with a lively presentation about the environmental health of the Seattle area and Washington State. NIEHS Director Linda Birnbaum also welcomed participants to the meeting, provided an update of NIEHS programs and priorities, and participated in a Public Forum held in conjunction with the meeting. 

The topic of Science Symposium #1 was The Implications of the ENCODE Project for the Future of Genetic-Environment Interactions Research. Keynote speaker and CEEH Member John Stammatoyannopoulos spoke eloquently on "Genes, Chromatin, and Common Disease". The ENCODE Project aims to identify the functional elements encoded in the human genome and has the potential to uncover genetic-environment interactions and epigenetic regulation in human responses to toxicants and disease susceptibility. 


Science Symposium #2, Emerging Issues in Global Environmental Health, featured  a key note from Theo Vos on "Global Burden of Disease 2010: Focus on the Environment." Dr. Vos wowed the audience with his realtime demonstrations of GHDx, an interactive online resource for demographic and health data created by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The GHDx directly supports IHME’s mission to improve the health of the world’s populations by providing the best information on population health. 


Breakout sessions addressed the topics of hydraulic fracturing, preparing the next generation of environmental health scientists, and strategies to build bi-directional communication. Ten young investigators from Environmental Health Centers across the country presented their research on topics ranging from bioinformatics to electronic waste recycling to phthalates.


The COECs worked together to create a "History Wall," pasting photographs and other memorabilia onto a timeline spanning the 50-year history of the EHS Core Center program. The History Wall introduced those relatively new to the Centers to the important work of the COECs and provided valuable information to those wishing to create new collaborations between COECs.

Sessions for the Directors focused on scientific presentations, long-range evaluation, strategic planning, and future steps for the EHS Core Center program. Administrators and COECs met separately in dedicated sessions to discuss topics of interest and value to them. 


Dr. Birnbaum at the Public Forum
Each year, in conjunction with the meeting, the host institution is encouraged to hold a public forum addressing a local environmental health issue. This year's forum was focused on the Duwamish River Superfund Site Cleanup. Stakeholders from EPA, Ecology, The Boeing Company, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition, CEEH, Public Radio International's Living on Earth, and the Muckleshoot Tribe gave brief "Lightning Talk" presentations about the Duwamish River and the proposed Cleanup Plan currently open for public comment.

The EHS Core Centers meeting concluded Friday night with an educational boat tour of Elliott Bay. Participants had a chance to see the north end of the 5.5 mile Lower Duwamish Waterway Superfund Site; Lockheed West in West Seattle; and the former Wyckoff Co. wood treatment facility at Eagle Harbor, the main port of Bainbridge Island. CEEH scientists Evan Gallagher and Chase Williams spoke about current CEEH research projects related to the pollution in the Duwamish River and provided information about the other Superfund sites we passed on the tour. James Rasmussen, the Director of the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition and a member of the Duwamish Tribe, spoke eloquently about the impacts of pollution on those living near the river and on Tribal members whose well-being is inextricably tied to the health of the river. 

A complete program for the meeting is available on the CEEH website

Photos from the Public Forum are available for viewing on our Ecogenetics Flickr page

Next spring’s EHSCC meeting will be held at the Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of Southern California.



Upcoming Event: Duwamish River Cleanup Educational Forum


© 2013, Jon Sharpe

The CEEH is pleased to be co-hosting an educational forum about the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) $305 million Duwamish River Superfund Cleanup proposal. The event will include time to prepare and submit written comments about the proposed cleanup plan as part of the Public Comment Period.


Duwamish River Superfund Cleanup Educational Forum
Monday, April 29th,  5:30 to 7:00 pm
Allen Library Research Commons, UW Campus 
(Search "Allen Library" on the UW Map Page)


Light refreshments will be provided

The forum will begin with a panel discussion with representatives from the EPA, Dept of Ecology, Lower Duwamish Waterway Group (Port of Seattle, City of Seattle/King County, Boeing Company), and the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (DRCC). Each representative will give a brief presentation and take questions about EPA's proposed cleanup plan. CEEH Outreach Director Kelly Edwards will moderate.

Seattle's lower Duwamish River was designated a federal Superfund site in 2001, which means it is one of the nation's most toxic hazardous waste sites. Over the last 12 years, the EPA has studied pollution in the river, its effect on people's health and the environment, and possible alternatives for cleanup. EPA  released its Proposed Cleanup Plan in late February and is holding public meetings and requesting comments on the proposed plan. The comment period closes June 13th.

The DRCC is sponsoring this educational meeting. DRCC is the Community Advisory Group for the Superfund site, representing community, environmental, tribal and small business groups in the Georgetown and South Park neighborhoods along the Duwamish River. The Educational Workshop at UW is one of a series of community meetings DRCC is sponsoring to inform the public about EPA's proposed cleanup plan.

The Duwamish, Seattle's working river, is also Seattle's only river. Cleaning it up will improve the habitat in and around the river, improve the area for wildlife, make fish and shellfish safer to eat, and provide access to a cleaner river for neighborhood residents and all Seattlites. Come and learn about this timely environmental health issue. Take this opportunity to tell EPA what you think by submitting a public comment.

No need to RSVP. We hope you can attend.

Upcoming Event: Public Forum on The Duwamish River Cleanup


Looking down the Duwamish to Elliott Bay, © 2013 Jon Sharpe

When: Thurs, April 18 5:30-7:30pm
Where: Portage Bay Café391 Terry Ave N, South Lake Union

The Public Forum is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

Space is limited and only those who RSVP can be guaranteed admittance. CLICK HERE TO RESERVE A SPACE

What does the cleanliness and health of Seattle's "invisible river," the Duwamish, have to do with the health and well-being of residents of Seattle and the Puget Sound? Come learn about the on-going cleanup of this waterway that runs through the heavily industrialized areas south of Elliott Bay. 

The Public Forum is being held in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of NIEHS-sponsored Environmental Health Sciences Core Centers. Dr. Linda Birnbaum, NIEHS Director, will attend the event and provide introductory remarks. This will be followed by seven "lightning talks" - five minutes each with 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds. This makes for a high-energy, fast-paced, and fun event - this won't be your typical panel presentation! The presentations will be followed by time for informal table discussions and a Q&A with the presenters. 

Our own Kelly Edwards will moderate the session. The presenters include:


Some background: The Duwamish River has been Seattle's working river for 100 years. Heavy industrial use has left the waterway contaminated with toxic chemicals from industries along its banks, stormwater pipes, and runoff from streets, roads, and upland activities. Pollution in the river sediments includes polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins/furans, carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (cPAHs), and arsenic. The most common pollutant is petroleum. The Duwamish Superfund Site is one of the most polluted places in the US. Many of these chemicals stay in the environment and have built to unsafe levels in resident fish and shellfish. The Washington State Dept of Health has issued a Fish Advisory warning against eating resident fish and shellfish from the Duwamish River.

The Georgetown and South Park neighborhoods surrounding the Duwamish are home to a disproportionate number of low-income and recent immigrant residents. The river is also part of the traditional fishing grounds of three Northwest Tribes. Health officials know that many people still fish on the Duwamish and eat the contaminated seafood.

In 2001, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared the lower 5 miles of the river, where the Duwamish flows into Puget Sound, a Superfund site. On February 28th, EPA released a proposed cleanup plan for the Lower Duwamish Waterway. The agency will consider public comments about the plan until June 13th.