An Industrial Wasteland in the Heart of Seattle

The Duwamish River in Seattle is highly poluted and classified as a Superfund Site. It snakes though the South Park neighborhood of Seattle where the neighborhood suffers from chronic illnesses. I Stand Up Paddleboarded this incredible waterway taking as many precautions as possible, most notable wearing an “Ocean Rodeo” Soul Dry Suit which protected about 95% of my body from toxins and other bacteria in the water. Investigate West wrote a very good article about the Duwamish River and I quote: “Living along the Duwamish River can erode years from your life.

The more than 38,000 people tucked into South Park, Georgetown and Beacon Hill neighborhoods along the river’s Superfund site suffer more illness — including asthma, diabetes and colorectal cancer — than elsewhere in King County. Babies born to families along the river are more likely to die and those who survive can expect a shorter life span than people born and raised just a few miles away.

Their obstacles are many. They are often poor. They are frequently overweight. Access to a supermarket, or to health care, can be tough.

But people here also carry the added burden of the river, a toxic stretch that is the legacy of Seattle’s industrial past. And Seattle’s industrial future continues to foul the air that residents breathe.

An InvestigateWest examination of county health records show that residents along the Superfund site have the highest hospitalization rates for asthma for children and adults in the county. People in the neighborhood are more likely to say their health is poor than elsewhere in the county.

More of their babies are born at lower weights than most other children in the county.

Most stark of all is that the life expectancy of people who live along this five-mile stretch of river is significantly lower than for many other parts of the county.

This little-known public health data could help shape a massive, potentially billion dollar decision coming down the pike about how best to clean up the Superfund mega-site that squats in the middle of these residential communities.

Data collected by Public Health — Seattle & King County show that the expected life span of kids growing up in South Park/ Georgetown/Beacon Hill is 79.5 years. Not far away in Ballard or northeast Seattle, life expectancy is 85 years, comparable to the highest averages around the world.

The difference is “very significant,” says Ali Mokdad, professor of Global Health in the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. He notes that life expectancy in the U.S. has been increasing steadily, rising by more than seven years for men, and more than six for women between 1960 and 2000.” You can find the full article here: http://www.invw.org/content/the-high-health-costs-of-a-seattles-superfund-site-it-can-take-years-off-your-life

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