Heavy Metal Pollution

Heavy metals

  • Are heavy, dense, metallic elements (e.g. arsenic, cadmium, copper, lead, and mercury)
  • Are naturally occurring in freshwater systems at low concentrations
  • Can be found at varying concentrations in the water depending on the soil characteristics, water properties, and amount of organic matter present

Why should I care?

High concentrations of heavy metals can kill fish and aquatic plant life and create human health concerns. In Lake Whatcom, smallmouth bass and yellow perch have been found with high mercury concentrations. The Department of Health has issued a fish advisory.

Although there have been concerns about concentrations of heavy metals in Lake Whatcom, water supplied by the City of Bellingham and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District meet all water quality standards for heavy metals. (See Consumer Confidence Reports).

How do heavy metals enter our lakes and streams?

  • They can enter water when soils and rocks weather or volcanoes erupt
  • They can enter water from landfills, dump sites and mining operations
  • They can accumulate on roadways and later be carried into lakes and streams by stormwater runoff

What can I do to help?

  • Maintain your automobile on a regular basis. If you find a leak, have it repaired.
  • Use the Disposal of Toxics facility to properly dispose of toxic household items. Prevent metals from leaching into groundwater and surface waters

More Information