Lake Whatcom's condition -- by Marc Lappe, PhD

December, 1999

Dr. Marc Lappe, an internationally known toxicologist and public health specialist, , reviewed the water quality data regarding Lake Whatcom.

Sherilyn Wells of the Clean Water Alliance asked that he write a review of the current studies and state of the watershed.

His 6 page analysis is very technical, detailed and extremely contrary to the rosy picture painted by the City, County and the recent "Entranco" study.

A brief summary of the key points:

Summarized from Dr. Marc Lappe's 12/02/99 analysis of Lake Whatcom data.     (Link to page of complete text of Court testimony by Dr. Lappe).

  1. The Human cancer risk from Polycylic Aromatic Hydrocarbons is high. Levels of PAH's are 5-10 times higher the Human Health criteria value. "Continuing flow of PAH's at these levels would make Lake Whatcom an unacceptable drinking water source." 3.1
  2. Proven animal Carcinogens: Phthalates. Levels in Lake Whatcom exceed the 1.8ug/L under the National Toxics Rule of 1992. Probable source: human sewage.
  3. Pesticides found in the Lake are associated with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. PCP is a liver toxin and a suspected human carcinogen. Dieldrin is a proven animal carcinogen whose use and registration have been suspended by the EPA.
  4. Fecal Coliforms as indicators of other pathogens. Viral contaminants, and deadly cryptosporidium. Excess chlorination to attempt to eliminate these contaminants lead to the concomitant buildup of chlorination byproducts posing a human cancer risk. (Tri-halomethanes)
  5. The presence of Caffeine serves as an indicator of inadequate sewage treatment. Also of concern are oral contraceptive hormones and antibiotics along with other pharmaceutical residues from raw sewage.
  6. Lake Whatcom watershed is already compromised. Studies show deterioration and degradation.
  7. The lake is already listed by the EPA as "impaired" under Federal 303d listings and "remediation attempts along with concurrent development is difficult to reconcile".
  8. Toxins in the lake "impede the survival of benthic organisms" (Massive fish die offs)
  9. Fish from the Lake are contaminated with aroclors and can not be safely eaten by children and pregnant women.
  10. "What is needed now is clearly a "cease and desist" order to restore Lake Whatcom and prevent further deterioration."
Extract by Tim Paxton. html-coded by Marian Beddill. updated December 20th , 1999.
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