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The Research Services Team (Research Team) at the Hazardous Waste Management Program conducts high-quality research to inform the Program’s priorities. We use data-driven, collaborative, and community-engaged research principles to ensure that our projects align with best practices and policies. 

The Research Team focuses on preventing hazardous chemical exposures to King County residents and workers and protecting the environment. We gather data and conduct research studies to identify the most hazardous chemical exposures in our community and then develop strategies to prevent them. Our work is used to develop new environmental policies and to help people choose safer chemicals and products. 

We conduct all our research work through an evidence-based and racial equity lens. We leverage a data-driven approach to integrate equity principles into our work planning, service delivery, evaluation, and methods of identifying systemic disparities. The Research Team is dedicated to advancing equity through community-engaged principles with our partners and co-creators. Our collaborative strategies of involving community members throughout the research process ensures that diverse experiences are included, projects are relevant to our communities, and there is equitable access to services and opportunities. The use of community-based participatory research is essential in cultivating solutions that will have long-term benefits for communities. We also use existing data to identify communities and workers that are disproportionately exposed to hazardous materials, including GIS-based environmental justice mapping tools, publicly available demographic information, and job-exposure matrix data. 


Our current projects include:

Additional Resources

If you would like to learn more about our projects, publications, or have any additional questions, please contact us at for more information.   

The Research Librarian maintains the Program’s collection of books, reports, and other material. For more information, please contact Dawn Duddleson at

Safer Alternatives

An important part of our work is identifying safer alternatives to hazardous chemicals and processes. A “safer alternative” is one that is healthier for humans and the environment than the current chemical in use.  

Safer alternatives work is an upstream preventative strategy that eliminates the hazard at the source before it causes downstream health or environmental problems. A product that is a true safer alternative must also be cost-effective, available, and work well. Residents and businesses benefit from safer alternatives because they improve health and safety and can also save money. 

Lead in Cookware and Cosmetics

The Research Team is collaborating with our Residential Services Program, Public Health - Seattle & King County’s Lead and Toxics Program, and the University of Washington to investigate the prevalence of lead-containing consumer products in King County. Our findings revealed that some of our communities use lead-containing cookware and eyeliners, which contribute to their lead exposure. Working with our partners, we are sharing information and promoting the adoption of safer products to protect community health. 


A scientist wearing a white lab coat uses an x-ray fluorescent analyzer to test a cooking pot lid for the presence of heavy metals

Dry Cleaning

Since 2009, our Research Team has studied the impact of chemicals in the dry-cleaning industry in King County. We surveyed dry cleaners and learned that most used perchloroethylene (PERC) and were not aware of its negative health effects. PERC is a known carcinogen and is also linked to liver damage, neurological problems, and other adverse health effects. PERC also contaminates groundwater, surface water, and soil.  
Our research and connections with the dry-cleaning community led to the creation of a technical and financial assistance program to help dry cleaners switch from using PERC to professional wet cleaning, the safest alternative. Between 2018 and 2021, the Haz Waste Program helped 30 King County dry cleaners switch to professional wet cleaning. The King County program has ended now that a statewide program is in place to help dry cleaners eliminate the use of PERC.  


Man wearing dark hat and white shirt stands in a dry cleaning shop