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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances


San Francisco Bay Estuary Priority Ecosystem Study

Aerial photo of the San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento River/San Joaquin River Delta, Calif.
Phytoplankton populations in estuaries such as San Francisco Bay, California, are influenced by a host of local stresses that mask plankton responses to global climate change.

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Diverse organic and inorganic contaminants that vary widely in their environmental behavior, sources, and toxicity enter the San Francisco Bay estuary. Toxic substances enter the estuary in agricultural and urban runoff and in discharges from municipal wastewater facilities and industries. The study focuses on the movement, fate, and effect of contaminants from a variety of agricultural, industrial, and urban sources, such as pesticides and toxic trace elements, and on the effects of the highly varying hydrologic conditions in river--estuarine environments. Scientists are developing an approach to characterize the distribution of contamination and the resulting ecological effects that will be applied in similar environments elsewhere.

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