Tacoma, WA

Tacoma, WA

The City of Tacoma is home to an estimated 213,418 residents, and it’s located in Pierce County, WA.

This report will help you become better acquainted with Tacoma and the surrounding area by addressing the following questions:

  • Are there any hazardous sites in Pierce County, WA?
  • How clean is the air in Pierce County, WA?
  • What’s the average radon level for homes in Pierce County, WA?
  • Is the water in Pierce County, WA safe to drink?

Hazardous Sites near Tacoma, WA

There are six Superfund sites in Pierce County, WA. Superfund sites, like Commencement Bay, South Tacoma Channel in Tacoma, WA, are areas that have been contaminated with hazardous substances. If not for the cleanup efforts orchestrated by the EPA, these sites could endanger people living in nearby communities.

The EPA uses the Hazardous Ranking System (HRS) to quantify the risk a contaminated site poses to human health and the environment. Sites assigned HRS scores of 28.5 or greater qualify for placement on the National Priorities List (NPL), and are eligible to receive federal funding for cleanup efforts.

Before the EPA deletes a site from the NPL, it conducts reviews to ensure the cleanup was sufficient. As a result, some sites remain on the active site list long after cleanup activities are complete.

For more information about the Superfund sites located in the Tacoma, WA area, be sure to review the map and background information provided below:

Map Legend:


A. Commencement Bay, South Tacoma Channel (HRS Score: 55)

The Commencement Bay, South Tacoma Channel site, former home to a host of activities like the operation of an on-site landfill and waste oil reprocessing, is located in Tacoma, WA.

Contaminants found at the Commencement Bay, South Tacoma Channel site include:

  • Aluminum
  • Antimony
  • Arsenic
  • Benzene
  • Beryllium

B. Commencement Bay, Near Shore/Tide Flats (HRS Score: 42)

The Commencement Bay, Near Shore/Tide Flats site, which includes an active seaport and nearby industrialized land, is located in Tacoma, WA.

Contaminants found at the Commencement Bay, Near Shore/Tide Flats site include:

  • Antimony
  • Arsenic
  • Benzene
  • Beryllium
  • Cadmium

C. Lakewood (HRS Score: 42)

The Lakewood site, which consists of a former dry-cleaning facility and the groundwater contamination it caused, is located in Lakewood, WA.

Contaminants found at the Lakewood site include:

  • 1,2-Dichloroethene (Cis And Trans Mixture)
  • Trans-1,2-Dichloroethene
  • Cis-1,2-Dichloroethene
  • Trichloroethene
  • Tetrachloroethene

D. Hidden Valley Landfill (Thun Field) (HRS Score: 38)

The Hidden Valley Landfill (Thun Field) site is located in Pierce County, WA.

Contaminants found at the Hidden Valley Landfill (Thun Field) site include:

  • Iron
  • Nitrate
  • Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
  • Manganese
  • Chloride

E. Fort Lewis Logistics Center (HRS Score: 35)

The Fort Lewis Logistics Center site, part of the Joint Base Lewis McChord military installation, is located in Tillicum, WA.

Contaminants found at the Fort Lewis Logistics Center site include:

  • Arsenic
  • Barium
  • Benzene
  • Cadmium
  • Chloroform

F. American Lake Gardens/McChord AFB (HRS Score: 29)

The American Lake Gardens/McChord AFB site, a part of McChord Field used by the Air Force for waste disposal from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s, is located in Tacoma, WA.

Contaminants found at the American Lake Gardens/McChord AFB site include:

  • Aluminum
  • Arsenic
  • Barium
  • Benzene
  • Cadmium

Air Quality in the Tacoma, WA Area

The two most widespread forms of air pollution are ozone (smog) and particle pollution (soot). Exposure to these harmful pollutants, for even just a short period, can have adverse effects on your health.

Thanks to data collected by air monitoring equipment located across the country, the American Lung Association (ALA) is able to assess and track our air quality using three metrics:

  • Ozone
  • Short-term Particle Pollution
  • Year-round Particle Pollution

In their 2019 annual report, the ALA rated the air quality in Pierce County, WA as follows:

Ozone Pollution

Grading Scale: A-F

Particle Pollution

Grading Scale: A-F

Particle Pollution

Grading Scale: Pass/Fail

Radon Levels in Tacoma, WA Area

Air quality inside your home can be impacted by a number of factors, including the presence of hazardous substances in building materials (asbestos, lead, formaldehyde, etc.) and local radon levels.

Radon is a naturally occurring gas you cannot see or smell. It can build up inside your home and negatively impact your indoor air quality as well as your health.

To provide a guideline, the EPA assigned one of three zones to each U.S. county and county equivalent:

  • Zone 1 (higher radon levels)
  • Zone 2 (moderate levels)
  • Zone 3 (lower levels)

The average indoor radon reading in Pierce County, WA is predicted to be less than 2 picocuries per liter (pCi/L), so the county has been assigned EPA Radon Zone 3.

EPA Radon Zone

But, it's worth mentioning homes with elevated levels of radon have been found in all three radon zones. So, despite the fact Tacoma, WA is in EPA Radon Zone 3, you should have a radon test performed on any home you purchase in the area.

Water Quality in Tacoma, WA Area

In accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), the EPA sets regulatory limits for drinking water contaminants known to cause adverse health effects.

The following Pierce County, WA water provider(s) violated the maximum allowable level for one or more regulated contaminants:

Filter ValueWater SystemContaminantHealth Effects
53053Fircrest City OfFluorideBone disease (pain and tenderness of the bones); children may get mottled teeth 
53053Lakewood Water DistrictFluorideBone disease (pain and tenderness of the bones); children may get mottled teeth 
53053Red Gate Mobile Home ParkTotal Haloacetic Acids (HAA5)Increased risk of cancer 
53053Red Gate Mobile Home ParkTTHMLiver, kidney, or central nervous system problems; increased risk of cancer 

In addition to setting enforceable standards for harmful contaminants, the EPA also established guidelines to assist public water providers in managing the taste, odor and color of their drinking water.

To find out more about what’s in your drinking water, contact your utility company and request a copy of the latest Consumer Confidence Report.

Sources and Methods

Hazardous Sites: Identified using a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), hazardous sites detailed on trendingtowns.com represent sites contained on the National Priorities List (NPL) as of November 25, 2019.  The NPL is the list of national priorities among the known releases or threatened releases of hazardous substances, pollutants, or contaminants throughout the United States and its territories.  All site-related data was sourced from the EPA.

Air Quality: Grades for ozone, short-term particle pollution, and year-round particle pollution were obtained from State of the Air 2019, a report compiled by the American Lung Association.

Radon Zones: Radon zone designations were obtained using a public use dataset provided by the EPA (September 11, 2019).

Water Quality: Drinking water violation data was sourced from the Safe Drinking Water Information System (SDWIS), a public use database provided by the EPA.  The dataset included violations submitted to the database as of the third quarter of 2019.


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