Synthesis of long-term nickel monitoring in San Francisco Bay.

Research paper by Don D Yee, Thomas T Grieb, William W Mills, Margaret M Sedlak

Indexed on: 21 Apr '07Published on: 21 Apr '07Published in: Environmental Research


The Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in the San Francisco Bay (RMP) has conducted annual monitoring of the San Francisco Estuary (estuary) since 1993. The RMP primarily monitors water, sediment, and bivalves, although short-term pilot and special studies on select topics are also conducted. The purpose of this article is to synthesize over 10 years of RMP nickel data and to illustrate how comprehensive monitoring data contribute to an understanding of contaminant fate. Nickel concentrations observed in water (43.7-233.7 nM) are largely a function of the geology of the watershed surrounding the estuary and inputs from wastewater treatment plants and urban runoff. The geologic formations supplying sediment to the estuary contain high concentrations of nickel (e.g., 1000-3300 microg/g). Much of the research to date on nickel speciation suggests that nickel complexes from wastewater treatment plants are not readily available for biological uptake [Bedsworth, W.W., Sedlak, D.L., 1999. Sources and environmental fate of strongly complexed nickel in estuarine waters: the role of ethylenediaminetetraacetate. Environ. Sci. Technol. 33, 926-931, Sedlak, D.L., Phinney, J.T., Bedsworth, W.W., 1997. Strongly complexed Cu and Ni in wastewater effluents and surface runoff. Environ. Sci. Technol. 31(10), 3010-3016, Donat, J.R., Lao, K.A., Bruland, K.W., 1994. Speciation of dissolved copper and nickel in South San Francisco Bay: a multi-method approach. Anal. Chim. Acta. 284, 547-571]. In addition, concentrations of nickel measured in biota by the RMP (0.905-113.0 microg/g dry weight in bivalve tissues) are well below recommended maximum tissue residue levels (220 microg/g wet weight, California state guidelines). Based on this information, regulators have reconsidered the water quality objectives developed for nickel.