Sediment cores of known chronology from Richardson and San Pablo Bays in San Francisco Bay, CA, were analyzed for a suite of chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls to reconstruct a historic record of inputs. Total DDTs (DDT = 2,4'- and 4,4'-dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane and the metabolites, 2,4'- and 4,4'-DDE, -DDD) range in concentration from 4-21 ng/g and constitute a major fraction (> 84%) of the total pesticides in the top 70 cm of Richardson Bay sediment. A subsurface maximum corresponds to a peak deposition date of 1969-1974. The first measurable DDT levels are found in sediment deposited in the late 1930's. The higher DDT inventory in the San Pablo relative to the Richardson Bay core probably reflects the greater proximity of San Pablo Bay to agricultural activities in the watershed of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers. Total polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) occur at comparable levels in the two Bays (< 1-34 ng/g). PCBs are first detected in sediment deposited during the 1930's in Richardson Bay, about a decade earlier than the onset of detectable levels of DDTs. PCB inventories in San Pablo Bay are about a factor of four higher in the last four decades than in Richardson Bay, suggesting a distribution of inputs not as strongly weighed towards the upper reaches of the estuary as DDTs. The shallower subsurface maximum in PCBs compared to DDT in the San Pablo Bay core is consistent with the imposition of drastic source control measures four these constituents in 1970 and 1977 respectively. The observed decline in DDT and PCB levels towards the surface of both cores is consistent with a dramatic drop in the input of these pollutants once the effect of sediment resuspension and mixing is taken into account.
Additional Publication Details
Chlorinated hydrocarbon pesticides and polychlorinated biphenyls in sediment cores from San Francisco Bay