In her ongoing efforts to create awareness and education about the affects of commercial pollutants in her hometown, Jamie Paparich is working to raise funds so people living in Northport can be tested for toxins.
Paparich’s “Northport Project” is currently working to raise $3,200 so 30 past and present residents of Northport can send in samples of their hair to be tested for toxins like arsenic, cadmium and mercury.
Paparich said the hair tests, which cost roughly $108 each and can be sent in via regular mail, are more accurate than other testing.
“I believe, with absolute certainty, the results of these hair element tests will be the final piece of information to secure funding and aid from interested hospitals and university research programs,” she said.
Paparich has been continually working to establish the data needed to show how the commercial waste from the nearby Teck Resources smelter in British Columbia has affected residents in the area, including her own family.
“I have many members of my family who are suffering from ailments like leukemia, Parkinson’s, ulcerative colitis, breast and uterine cancers due to their exposure to the plant’s particulate pollutants when they were children,” she said, referring to the family farm located on Mitchell Road near Northport.
“Although they did not become ill until adulthood, it seems that the high level of exposure they had as children is linked to their sickness.”
Teck Resources Ltd. is a lead and zinc smelter that produces products for export, much of it to the United States. The zinc is used in pharmaceuticals, zinc batteries, hearing aids, as a rust preventative and in renewable energy products. Lead is also exported for the manufacture of lead acid batteries. The plant has been operating for nearly a century, but past production discharged industrial waste into the Columbia River up until the 1990s.
Black Sand Beach
These discharges, along with particulate matter from the smelter, are blamed for the recurring health problems of some residents downstream in Northport. One of the areas catching much of the slag discharge was an area referred to as “Black Sand Beach.”
The beach near Northport that was a popular swimming hole for the community was cleaned up by Teck Resources in 2010. The company spent $1 million to remove the discharge material from the area that was reprocessed at the Trail plant into ferrous granules that are used in making cement.
A 2010 study on the occurrence of ulcerative colitis or Crohn's in Northport is currently underway to determine what factors could be causing the illnesses in the area.
For Paparich, the cause seems to be obvious.
“We all received the bad genetics they (Teck Resources) caused in our parents,” she said. “Why else would 98 percent of all the respondents from adults my age, who had at least one parent that was born and raised there, yet never lived there themselves, all have early onset arthritis and thyroid diseases?“
Once the hair test samples have been sent in and documented, Paparich is hoping that a community health program can be established related to toxin exposure.
“If we can offer services like overall health services and psychiatric services, we could save the lives of people who may not even realize they are suffering from mental or psychological symptoms caused by the impacts of the accumulation of metal toxins in their body,” Paparich said.
Current fundraising efforts for the Northport Project are being conducted via the project blog, www.northportproject.com  and via word of mouth.
Bockemuehl Jewelers in Spokane has offered to contribute 10 percent off all sales if customers mention seeing the offer on the project blog or on the Northport Buy,Sell Trade Facebook page. Traveling Lilies has also offered to donate 20 percent off all sales of their Northport photos and photo gifts to the fundraiser. So far Paparich has raised $290 from individual, anonymous donations, as well as money from past residents.
To learn more about The Northport Project, visit: www.northportproject.com  or email:firstname.lastname@example.org