Dated sediment cores collected from Richardson and San Pablo Bays in San Francisco Bay were used to reconstruct a history of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) contamination. The sedimentary record of PAHs in Richardson Bay shows that anthropogenic inputs have increased since the turn of the century, presumably as a result of increasing urbanization and industrialization around the Bay Area. Concentrations range from about 0.04-6.3 ??g g-1. The dominant origin of the PAHs contributing to this modern contamination is from combustion processes. Depth profiles in San Pablo Bay indicate higher concentrations of PAHs since the 1950s than during the late 1800s, also presumably resulting from an increase in urbanization and industrialization. Total PAHs in San Pablo Bay range from about 0.04-1.3 ??g g-1. The ratios of methylphenanthrenes/phenanthrene and (methylfluoranthenes + methylpyrenes)/fluoranthene were sensitive indicators of anthropogenic influences in the estuary. Variations in the ratio of 1,7-dimethylphenanthrene/2,6-dimethylphenanthrene indicate a gradual replacement of wood by fossil-fuel as the main combustion source of PAHs in. San Francisco Bay sediments. The profile of perylene may be an indicator of eroding peat from marshlands.
Additional publication details
Sedimentary record of anthropogenic and biogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons in San Francisco Bay, California