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Environmental Health - Toxic Substances


San Francisco Bay Estuary Priority Ecosystem Study

A scientist using a net to collect a sample of zooplankton from delta channel.
Zooplankton sampling to measure the biological production of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta's channels. Zooplankton and other phytoplankton are just one part of the Delta's food web, but they play an important role because they are the base of the rest of the food web.
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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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