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Your Environment. Your Health.

UW SRP Hosts Agency Seminar on Impact of Metal Smelting Operations

lakes sampled graphic
Gawel and his research team measured arsenic concentration in the water and sediment in lakes within a 20 mile radius of the ASARCO site to better understand arsenic mobility, bioavailability, and distribution from the site.

In case you missed it, an audio recording of the University of Washington (UW), Superfund Research Program (SRP) Agency Seminar held June 26 is now online .  Jim Gawel, Ph.D., associate professor at UW Tacoma, presented the seminar, "The Long-Term Impact of Metal Smelting Operations on Arsenic Availability in Urban Lakes of the South-Central Puget Sound Region.”  His presentation drew a diverse group of scientists from academia, federal government, and state government agencies.

Gawel’s research is focused on the American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) smelter in Ruston, Washington.  During the seminar, Gawel explained that ASARCO contaminated the south-central Pugent Sound region with heavy metals, including arsenic and lead. Although the smelter closed in 1986, heavy metals remain in urban lakes surrounding the previous smelting site. Gawel explained the chemical, physical, and biological factors affecting arsenic mobility in the lakes near the ASARCO smelter site and discussed initial data on effects of plants and animals in the lakes.

Since 2007, the UW SRP Research Translation Core (RTC) has sponsored the Agency Seminar Series at U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offices in Seattle. Seminars are directed toward an audience of agency staff involved with risk assessment and communication at Superfund sites, such as EPA Region 10 and the Washington State Departments of Health and Ecology. The speaker series supports topic experts who can help agency staff address local hazardous waste and contamination issues.

“Our Research Translation team meets with an advisory committee from EPA and state agencies to identify relevant topics and at times even specific speakers,” said Katie Frevert, UW RTC Program Manager. “In the last year the EPA requested that we draw from UW resources and focus on specific regional issues they'd suggested. This brought us Joel Baker's talk on the Puget Sound last October and to Jim Gawel on arsenic availability in freshwater lake systems.”

To watch the June 26 seminar, as well as past presentations, including the fall 2012 talk on emerging technologies to revolutionize modeling of chemical contaminants by Joel Baker, Ph.D., visit the UW SRP Agency Seminar website .

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