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Spatial and temporal variations in silver contamination and toxicity in San Francisco Bay

January 1, 2007

Although San Francisco Bay has a "Golden Gate", it may be argued that it is the "Silver Estuary". For at one time the Bay was reported to have the highest levels of silver in its sediments and biota, along with the only accurately measured values of silver in solution, of any estuarine system. Since then others have argued that silver contamination is higher elsewhere (e.g., New York Bight, Florida Bay, Galveston Bay) in a peculiar form of pollution machismo, while silver contamination has measurably declined in sediments, biota, and surface waters of the Bay over the past two to three decades. Documentation of those systemic temporal declines has been possible because of long-term, ongoing monitoring programs, using rigorous trace metal clean sampling and analytical techniques, of the United States Geological Survey and San Francisco Bay Regional Monitoring Program that are summarized in this report. However, recent toxicity studies with macro-invertebrates in the Bay have indicated that silver may still be adversely affecting the health of the estuarine system, and other studies have indicated that silver concentrations in the Bay may be increasing due to new industrial inputs and/or the diagenetic remobilization of silver from historically contaminated sediments being re-exposed to overlying surface waters and benthos. Consequently, the Bay may not be ready to relinquish its title as the "Silver Estuary".

Publication Year 2007
Title Spatial and temporal variations in silver contamination and toxicity in San Francisco Bay
DOI 10.1016/j.envres.2007.05.006
Authors A.R. Flegal, Cynthia L. Brown, S. Squire, J.R.M. Ross, G.M. Scelfo, S. Hibdon
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Environmental Research
Index ID 70030888
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Toxic Substances Hydrology Program