Environmental Health
Healthy Home Environment
Tacoma Smelter Plume
  Tacoma Smelter Plume — Healthy Actions  

How to Reduce Contact with Contaminants in Dirt

The following guidelines are suggested to help you reduce exposure to lead, arsenic, and other contaminants in dirt. Also see, Dirt Alert: Take a Closer Look [PDF] ― healthy actions to reduce your family's contact with soil. To request a brochure, call 360-867-2674 (TDD 360-867-2603) or email us.

Inside Your Home

Smoke plume

  • Wash hands and face using water and soap after working or playing in the dirt, especially before eating.
  • Use a shoe brush or quality doormat to remove dirt from shoes.
  • Take your shoes off before entering your home.
  • Damp mop and wipe surfaces often to control dust.
  • Vacuum 2-3 times a week. Use a bag designed to filter "allergens" or a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arrestor) filter.
  • Wash children’s toys and pacifiers often.
  • Scrub and/or peel vegetables and fruits with soap and water before eating.
  • After working or playing in dirt, remove soiled clothing and wash them before wearing them again.

Tying shoes, washing hands, scrubing food images

Outside Your Home

Children's Play Areas

  • Wash children’s hands and face using water and soap after playing in the dirt, especially before eating.
  • Cover bare patches of dirt with bark, sand, grass or other material.
  • Do not eat or drink while playing in dirt.
  • Rinse off toys used outside often and keep them away from areas of bare dirt.

Garden Areas

  • Wash hands and face using water and soap after working in the dirt.
  • Wear gloves when working in dirt.
  • Dampen dirt before gardening to reduce dust.
  • Wear waterproof footwear when working in dirt; rinse them off after each use.
  • Rinse dirt off garden tools and store them outside.
  • Replace the top 18 – 24 inches of dirt in vegetable garden beds.
  • Avoid growing root vegetables in your garden unless you’ve replaced your dirt.

Pet and Livestock Areas

  • Keep pets away from bare dirt so they don’t track it into the house.
  • Dampen soils with water when windy to reduce dust.
  • Fence off and rotate areas of property to keep animals in vegetated areas, so they do not cause bare soil to be exposed.
Hot Topics
Popular Pages & Links
  • Thurston County
  • Dept of Ecology
This page last updated: 01/28/22