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Risks to human health

Lead and arsenic can harm your health. You may be exposed by accidentally swallowing or breathing in contaminated soil. Young children under the age of 6 are especially at risk because they put hands and toys in their mouths, and because their small bodies are still growing and developing.

  • Arsenic may cause cancer later on in life and may also contribute to heart disease, diabetes, and other health problems.
  • Lead can cause developmental delays, decreased IQ, and behavioral problems in children.

Protecting your family's health

There are many things you can do now to help protect your family's health.

BE DIRT ALERT! Here are some simple healthy actions:

  • Leave your shoes at the door.
  • Wash your hands with plenty of soap and water. Use a nail brush.
  • Keep pets clean. Wipe off dirt and mud before your pet comes into your house.
  • Mop, damp-dusting, and vacuum to minimize dust and dirt in your home.
  • Maintain your home and yard. Cover bare patches in your yard with ground cover.
  • Eat a healthy diet. Iron, calcium, and vitamin C help to decrease absorption of lead.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables to make sure all dirt is removed.

Dirt Alert logo

Download brochures and posters that show healthy healthy actions—simple things you and your family can do to reduce contact with arsenic and lead in the dirt.

Additional resources

  • Garden safely. Gardeners and others who work or play in contaminated soils can take simple steps to limit the amount of soil they swallow or breathe. For more information on maintaining a natural lawn and garden, visit Seattle Public Utilities' website.

  • Request free soil testing, ONLY if you live in the soil safety program service area by filling out Property Access Agreement for Soil Sampling form (available in English and Spanish) or calling 206-477-DIRT (206-477-3478).

  • Request a presentation for your community group, home owners association, school, gardening club, p-patch group, or other interested parties by contacting us at calling 206-477-DIRT or emailing at dirtalert@kingcounty.gov.

  • Test the soil at your home. You may choose to test your own soil whether or not you live in the soil safety area. See guidelines on how to test your own soil.