Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Estuary Institute, 7770 Pardee Lane, Oakland, CA 94621, USA. Environmental Research
(Impact Factor: 4.37).
10/2007; 105(1):67-86. DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2007.01.013
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.
Available from: Paul Salop
- "Loads from major pathways were measured for larger rivers and smaller tributaries, atmospheric deposition, and municipal wastewater (Yee et al., 2001;Tsai et al., 2002;Gilbreath and McKee, 2015;David et al., 2015). RMP scientists contributed to a mass balance model for PCBs that allowed the Water Board to: (1) identify the relative significance of sources; (2) determine the approximate time it would take to meet targets based on various input scenarios; and (3) to identify data gaps (Davis, 2004;Davis et al., 2007). A food web model was also developed to determine how far concentrations of PCBs need to decline in the sediment to bring fish concentrations down to levels that are protective of human health (Gobas and Arnot, 2010). "
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ABSTRACT: The Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (RMP) is a novel partnership between regulatory agencies and the regulated community to provide the scientific foundation to manage water quality in the largest Pacific estuary in the Americas. The RMP monitors water quality, sediment quality and bioaccumulation of priority pollutants in fish, bivalves and birds. To improve monitoring measurements or the interpretation of data, the RMP also regularly funds special studies. The success of the RMP stems from collaborative governance, clear objectives, and long-term institutional and monetary commitments. Over the past 22 years, high quality data and special studies from the RMP have guided dozens of important decisions about Bay water quality management. Moreover, the governing structure and the collaborative nature of the RMP have created an environment that allowed it to stay relevant as new issues emerged. With diverse participation, a foundation in scientific principles and a continual commitment to adaptation, the RMP is a model water quality monitoring program. This paper describes the characteristics of the RMP that have allowed it to grow and adapt over two decades and some of the ways in which it has influenced water quality management decisions for this important ecosystem.
- "Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), several organochlorine (OC) pesticides (DDT, chlordanes, and dieldrin), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs), and dioxins are highly stable and toxic organic pollutants of concern in San Francisco Bay (She et al., 2002; Holden et al., 2003; She et al., 2004; Oros et al., 2005; Greenfield and Davis 2005; Connor et al., 2007; Davis et al., 2007; Oram et al., 2008; Davis et al., 2011). Despite the fact that the production and sale of some of these pollutants has been prohibited in most countries for many decades, they still pose potential threats to the health of humans and aquatic life. "
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ABSTRACT: Contaminant concentrations from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River watershed were determined in water samples mainly during flood flows in an ongoing effort to describe contaminant loads entering San Francisco Bay, CA, USA. Calculated PCB and total mercury loads during the 6-year observation period ranged between 3.9 and 19 kg/yr and 61 and 410 kg/yr, respectively. Long-term average PCB loads were estimated at 7.7 kg/yr and total mercury loads were estimated at 200 kg/yr. Also monitored were PAHs, PBDEs (two years of data), and dioxins/furans (one year of data) with average loads of 392, 11, and 0.15/0.014 (OCDD/OCDF) kg/yr, respectively. Organochlorine pesticide loads were estimated at 9.9 kg/yr (DDT), 1.6 kg/yr (chlordane), and 2.2 kg/yr (dieldrin). Selenium loads were estimated at 16 300 kg/yr. With the exception of selenium, all average contaminant loads described in the present study were close to or below regulatory load allocations established for North San Francisco Bay.
Available from: Denise J Greig
- "During recent decades, harbor seal populations in SF Bay have been increasing at a slower rate than other locations along the Pacific coast (Harvey et al. 1990; Sydeman and Allen 1999; Neale et al. 2005; Davis et al. 2007). A number of contributing factors have been hypothesized such as harassment, reduction or change in prey resources, and environmental contamination (Kopec and Harvey 1995; Grigg et al. 2004); however specific causes for a lessthan-expected population growth rate remain largely undetermined . "
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ABSTRACT: Monomethylmercury (MeHg(+)) is an environmental pollutant, which at sufficiently high exposures, has induced neurotoxicosis in several animal species, including humans. Adverse neurological effects due to gestational exposure are of particular concern as MeHg(+) readily crosses the blood-brain and placental barriers. The degree to which environmental concentrations in marine prey affect free-living piscivorous wildlife, however, remains largely undetermined. We examined associations of gestational exposures to mercury on neurodevelopment and survival using hair and blood concentrations of total mercury ([THg]) in a stranded population of Pacific harbor seal pups from central California. A positive association was determined for the presence of abnormal neurological symptoms and increasing [THg] in blood (P = 0.04), but not hair. Neither hair nor blood [THg] was significantly associated with survival, or the neurodevelopmental milestone 'free-feeding', which was measured from the onset of hand-assisted feeding to the time at which pups were able to consume fish independently. Both hair and blood [THg] exceeded threshold values considered potentially toxic to humans and other mammalian wildlife species. The higher [THg] in blood associated with abnormal neurological symptoms may indicate an adverse effect of this pollutant on neurodevelopment in harbor seal pups. These data have broader implications with respect to human health and public policy as harbor seals and humans consume similar fish species, and it is possible that safeguard levels established for marine mammals could also extend to human populations that regularly consume fish.
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