Ruston, Washington

“Children play in yard of Ruston home, while Tacoma smelter stack showers area with arsenic and lead residue,” August 1972, via The U.S. National Archives Commons on flickr.

The photo was taken by Gene Daniels for DOCUMERICA, an early photography program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is shown here with its original caption.

From 1972 to 1977, the EPA hired over 100 photographers to “document subjects of environmental concern.” They created an archive of about 20,000 images.

In addition to recording damage to the nation’s landscapes, the project captured “the era’s trends, fashions, problems, and achievements,” according to the Archives, which held an exhibit of the photos, “Searching for the Seventies,” in 2013.