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Historical methyl mercury in San Francisco Bay


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San Francisco Bay, California is considered a mercury-impaired watershed. Elevated concentrations of mercury are found in water and sediment as well as fish and estuarine birds. Sources of mercury to the watershed since 1845 include sediment-associated mercury from mercury mining, mercury losses from gold amalgamation activities in mines of the Sierra Nevada, aerial deposition of mercury from global and regional emissions to air, and the direct discharge of mercury to Bay waters associated with the urbanization and industrialization of the estuary. We assessed historical trends in mercury bioaccumulation by measuring mercury concentrations in feathers of the endangered California Ridgway’s rail (formerly California Clapper Rail) using [...]

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SFBayCLRA5yrAvg_LSHg Historical methyl mercury in San Francisco Bay Metadata_09July2015.xml
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Because of the many historical and contemporary sources of mercury to the Bay, we sought to answer two questions: 1. How has mercury bioaccumulation in the Bay changed over time? And, 2. Can we attribute the observed variation in bioaccumulation over time to different anthropogenic sources of mercury?



  • USGS Western Ecological Research Center



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