Population Health

April 15, 2020

UW researchers investigate surprising arsenic discoveries in King County lake

Image of a UW student offloading data from a dissolved oxygen probe to a field computerLake Killarney in Federal Way, Washington is one of several lakes that has arsenic-contaminated sediments from the former American Smelting and Refining Company (ASARCO) copper smelter located about 15 miles away near Tacoma, Washington.

After a surprising discovery that some shallow lakes, such as Lake Killarney, have unique characteristics that facilitate the movement of arsenic from lakebed sediment up into the food web, a team of University of Washington researchers is working to further investigate the movement of water and impact on aquatic life.

Specifically, the researchers are currently working to better understand the hydrodynamics, or movement of water, within Lake Killarney, to determine why arsenic travels from the lakebed sediment up into the aquatic food web in some lakes, but not in others.

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