Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in San Francisco Bay
ABSTRACT San Francisco Bay is facing a legacy of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) spread widely across the land surface of the watershed, mixed deep into the sediment of the Bay, and contaminating the Bay food web to a degree that poses health risks to humans and wildlife. In response to this persistent problem, water quality managers are establishing a PCB total maximum daily load (TMDL) and implementation plan to accelerate the recovery of the Bay from decades of PCB contamination. This article provides a review of progress made over the past 15 years in managing PCBs and understanding their sources, pathways, fate, and effects in the Bay, and highlights remaining information needs that should be addressed in the next 10 years. The phaseout of PCBs during the 1970s and the 1979 federal ban on sale and production led to gradual declines from the 1970s to the present. However, 25 years after the ban, PCB concentrations in some Bay sport fish today are still more than ten times higher than the threshold of concern for human health. Without further management action it appears that the general recovery of the Bay from PCB contamination will take many more decades. PCB concentrations in sport fish were, along with mercury, a primary cause of a consumption advisory for the Bay and the consequent classification of the Bay as an impaired water body. Several sources of information indicate that PCB concentrations in the Bay may also be high enough to adversely affect wildlife, including rare and endangered species. The greater than 90% reduction in food web contamination needed to meet the targets for protection of human health would likely also generally eliminate risks to wildlife. PCB contamination in the Bay is primarily associated with industrial areas along the shoreline and in local watersheds. Strong spatial gradients in PCB concentrations persist decades after the release of these chemicals to Bay Area waterways. Through the TMDL process, attention is being more sharply focused on the PCB sources that are controllable and contributing most to PCB impairment in the Bay. Urban runoff from local watersheds is a particularly significant pathway for PCB entry into the Bay. Significant loads also enter the Bay through Delta outflow (riverine input). Recent studies have shown that erosion of buried sediment is occurring in large regions of the Bay, posing a significant problem with respect to recovery of the Bay from PCB contamination because the sediments being eroded and remobilized are from relatively contaminated buried sediment deposits. In-Bay contaminated sites are likely also a major contributor of PCBs to the Bay food web. Dredged material disposal, wastewater effluent, and atmospheric deposition are relatively minor pathways for PCB loading to the Bay. Priority information needs at present relate to understanding the sources, magnitude of loads, and effectiveness of management options for urban runoff; the regional influence of in-Bay contaminated sites; remobilization of PCBs from buried sediment; historic and present trends; in situ degradation rates of PCBs; reliable recovery forecasts under different management scenarios; the spatial distribution of PCBs in soils and sediments; and the biological effects of PCBs in interaction with other stressors. The slow release of pollutants from the watershed and the slow response of the Bay to changes in inputs combine to make this ecosystem very slow to recover from pollution of the watershed. The history of PCB contamination in the Bay underscores the importance of preventing persistent, particle-associated pollutants from entering this sensitive ecosystem.
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ABSTRACT: Extensive evidence of the adverse impacts of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) to wildlife, domestic animals, and humans has now been documented for over 40 years. Despite the ban on production and new use of PCBs in the United States in 1979, a number of fish consumption advisories remain in effect, and there remains considerable uncertainty regarding ongoing environmental sources and management alternatives. Using a blind sampling approach, 25 caulk samples were collected from the exterior of ten buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area and analyzed for PCBs using congener-specific gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) and chlorine using portable X-ray fluorescence (XRF). PCBs were detected in 88% of the caulk samples collected from the study area buildings, with 40% exceeding 50 ppm. Detectable PCB concentrations ranged from 1 to 220,000 ppm. These data are consistent with previous studies in other cities that have identified relatively high concentrations of PCBs in concrete and masonry buildings built between 1950 and 1980. Portable XRF was not a good predictor of the PCB content in caulk and the results indicate that portable XRF analysis may only be useful for identifying caulk that contains low concentrations of Cl (≤ 10,000 ppm) and by extension low or no PCBs. A geographic information system-based approach was used to estimate that 10,500 kg of PCBs remain in interior and exterior caulk in buildings located in the study area, which equates to an average of 4.7 kg PCBs per building. The presence of high concentrations in the exterior caulk of currently standing buildings suggests that building caulk may be an ongoing source of PCBs to the San Francisco Bay Area environment. Further studies to expand the currently small international dataset on PCBs in caulking materials in buildings of countries that produced or imported PCBs appear justified in the context of both human health and possible ongoing environmental release.Environment international 05/2014; 66:38–43. DOI:10.1016/j.envint.2014.01.008 · 5.66 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Superficial sediments collected from seven estuarine systems located along the Portuguese coast were analyzed for 7 polychlorinated dibenzo-p-dioxins (PCDDs), 10 polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs), and 12 dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (dl-PCBs). Total PCDD/F concentration ranged from 4.6 to 464 pg g(-1) dry weight (dw), while that of dl-PCBs varied from 26.6 to 8,693 pg g(-1) dw. In general, the highest PCDD/F and dl-PCB concentrations were associated with densely populated and industrially impacted areas. Additionally, PCDD/F revealed a predominance of octachlorodibenzodioxin (OCDD) to total PCDD/Fs, while PCB 118 was the major contributor to total dl-PCBs. This study provided a global perspective of the contamination status of Portuguese estuaries by dioxin-like compounds and allowed a comparison between the investigated systems and other systems worldwide. PCDD/F and dl-PCB levels found in the collected sediments were lower than those of highly impacted areas from different parts of the globe. Nevertheless, comparison with guidelines and quality standards from other countries indicated that some Portuguese estuarine areas with a high industrialization level present PCDD/F and dl-PCB concentrations in superficial sediment that may constitute a risk to aquatic organisms.Environmental Science and Pollution Research 04/2014; 21(15). DOI:10.1007/s11356-014-2891-y · 2.76 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: The presence of persistent organic pollutants in Tanzanian environment is not well monitored despite the existing pollution potential from a number of sources. In this study, we investigated for the first time, the concentration profiles of different organohalogen compounds such as organochlorine pesticide residues (OCPs), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) in environmental samples (water and sediments) from the Pangani river basin (PRB). The PRB is one of the largest drainage basins in Tanzania, with its watershed exposed to multiple input sources of trace organic contaminants. Surface water and sediments were sampled from 12 representative stations of diverse characteristics and land-use practices, in three distinct seasons, and extracted by liquid-liquid and Soxhlet extraction methods, respectively. Water samples were analyzed by GC-ECD for OCPs only, while sediment samples were analyzed for OCPs, PCBs and PBDEs by GC/MS. Seven compounds, dominated by HCH isomers (510-4460pg/L) and DDT analogs (160-1460pg/L),were detected in the water samples. These concentrations are far below the WHO guidelines for drinking water quality. A total of 42 compounds (8 OCPs, 28 PCB congeners and 6 PBDE congeners) were detected in the sediment samples. Their respective total concentration ranges were 245-10,230; 357-11,000 and 38-2175pg/g dry weight. The spatial distribution patterns and Hierarchical Cluster Analysis reflected the impact of historical agricultural usage in sugarcane plantations (OCPs), and urbanization (PCBs and PBDEs). Risk assessment using sediment quality guidelines indicated no ecotoxicological risks. The results we have found provide preliminary data on levels of the organic contaminants in Pangani river basin as a new insight on the environmental quality of the area.Science of The Total Environment 02/2013; 447C:186-197. DOI:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2012.12.083 · 3.16 Impact Factor