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Filters: Author is Alicia N. Gilbreath  [Clear All Filters]
2021
Zhu, X.; Munno, K.; Grbic, J.; Werbowski, L. M.; Bikker, J.; Ho, A.; Guo, E.; Sedlak, M.; Sutton, R.; Box, C.; et al. 2021. Holistic Assessment of Microplastics and Other Anthropogenic Microdebris in an Urban Bay Sheds Light on Their Sources and Fate. Environmental Science and Technology Water . SFEI Contribution No. 1060.

The physical and chemical properties of microplastics and their environmental distributions may provide clues about their sources and inform their fate. We demonstrate the value of extensive monitoring of microplastics in an urban bay, San Francisco Bay. Surface water, fish, sediment, stormwater runoff, and treated wastewater were sampled across the bay and adjacent national marine sanctuaries (NMS). We found microplastics and other anthropogenic microdebris (“microdebris”) in all sample types. Concentrations were higher in the bay than in the NMS, and within the bay, concentrations were higher during the wet season than during the dry season. The fate of microdebris varied depending on their morphologies and densities: fibers were dominant in fish, black rubbery fragments were common in sediment, as were fibers, while buoyant fragments and fibers were widely observed in surface waters. Notably, we found large amounts of black rubbery fragments, an emerging contaminant, in stormwater. Moreover, stormwater was a significant pathway of microdebris, with concentrations roughly 140 times greater than those found in wastewater, which was dominated by fibers. Overall, we demonstrate the value of multimatrix regional monitoring to evaluate the sources and fate of microplastics, which can inform effective mitigation for other urban bays around the world.

 

Gilbreath, A.; McKee, L.; Hunt, J. 2021. Pollutants of Concern Reconnaissance Monitoring Progress Report, Water Years 2015-2020. SFEI Contribution No. 1061. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.

The San Francisco Bay polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and mercury (Hg) total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) call for implementation of control measures to reduce PCB and Hg loads entering the Bay via stormwater. In 2009, the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board (Regional Water Board) issued the first Municipal Regional Stormwater Permit (MRP). This MRP contained a provision aimed at improving information on stormwater pollutant loads in selected watersheds (Provision C.8.) and piloted a number of management techniques to reduce PCB and Hg loading to the Bay from smaller urbanized tributaries (Provisions C.11. and C.12.). To address C8, a previously developed fixed station loads monitoring technique was refined that incorporated turbidity and stage sensors recording at 5-15 minute intervals with the collection of velocity and water samples using both manual and auto sampling techniques to compute loads. In 2015, the Regional Water Board issued the second iteration of the MRP. “MRP 2.0” placed an increased focus on identifying those watersheds, source areas, and source properties that are potentially the most polluted and are therefore most likely to be cost-effective areas for addressing load-reduction requirements.

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Davis, J.; Foley, M.; Askevold, R.; Chelsky, A.; Dusterhoff, S.; Gilbreath, A.; Lin, D.; Yee, D.; Senn, D.; Sutton, R. 2021. RMP Update 2021. SFEI Contribution No. 1057.

The overarching goal of the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (RMP) is to answer the highest priority scientific questions faced by managers of Bay water quality. The RMP is an innovative collaboration between the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, the regulated discharger community, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, and many other scientists and interested parties. The purpose of this document is to provide a concise overview of recent RMP activities and findings, and a look ahead to significant products anticipated in the next two years. The report includes a description of the management context that guides the Program; a brief summary of some of the most noteworthy findings of this multifaceted Program; and a summary of progress to date and future plans for addressing priority water quality topics.

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Moran, K.; Miller, E.; Mendez, M.; Moore, S.; Gilbreath, A.; Sutton, R.; Lin, D. 2021. A Synthesis of Microplastic Sources and Pathways to Urban Runoff. SFEI Contribution No. 1049. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.

California Senate Bill 1263 (2018) tasks the Ocean Protection Council (OPC) with leading statewide efforts to address microplastic pollution, and requires the OPC to adopt and implement a Statewide Microplastics Strategy related to microplastic materials that pose an emerging concern for ocean health. Key questions remain about the sources and pathways of microplastics, particularly to urban runoff, to inform an effective statewide microplastics management strategy. The OPC funded this work to inform these microplastics efforts. The purpose of this project was to build conceptual models that synthesize and integrate our current understanding of microplastic sources and pathways to urban runoff in order to provide future research priorities that will inform how best to mitigate microplastic pollution. Specifically, we developed conceptual models for cigarette butts and associated cellulose acetate fibers (Section 2), fibers other than cellulose acetate (Section 3), single-use plastic foodware and related microplastics (Section 4), and tire particles (Section 5), which were prioritized based on findings from the recent urban stormwater monitoring of microplastics in the San Francisco Bay region. Conceptual models specific to each of these particle types are valuable tools to refine source identification and elucidate potential source-specific data gaps and management options.

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Werbowski, L. M.; Gilbreath, A.; Munno, K.; Zhu, X.; Grbic, J.; Wu, T.; Sutton, R.; Sedlak, M.; Deshpande, A. D.; Rochman, C. M. 2021. Urban Stormwater Runoff: A Major Pathway for Anthropogenic Particles, Black Rubbery Fragments, and Other Types of Microplastics to Urban Receiving Waters. Environmental Science and Technology Water . SFEI Contribution No. 1040.

Stormwater runoff has been suggested to be a significant pathway of microplastics to aquatic habitats; yet, few studies have quantified microplastics in stormwater. Here, we quantify and characterize urban stormwater runoff from 12 watersheds surrounding San Francisco Bay for anthropogenic debris, including microplastics. Depth-integrated samples were collected during wet weather events. All stormwater runoff contained anthropogenic microparticles, including microplastics, with concentrations ranging from 1.1 to 24.6 particles/L. These concentrations are much higher than those in wastewater treatment plant effluent, suggesting urban stormwater runoff is a major source of anthropogenic debris, including microplastics, to aquatic habitats. Fibers and black rubbery fragments (potentially tire and road wear particles) were the most frequently occurring morphologies, comprising ∼85% of all particles across all samples. This suggests that mitigation strategies for stormwater should be prioritized. As a case study, we sampled stormwater from the inlet and outlet of a rain garden during three storm events to measure how effectively rain gardens capture microplastics and prevent it from contaminating aquatic ecosystems. We found that the rain garden successfully removed 96% of anthropogenic debris on average and 100% of black rubbery fragments, suggesting rain gardens should be further explored as a mitigation strategy for microplastic pollution.

2020
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Gilbreath, A.; Hunt, J.; Mckee, L. 2020. Pollutants of Concern Reconnaissance Monitoring Progress Report, Water Years 2015 - 2019. SFEI Contribution No. 987. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.

Reconnaissance monitoring for water years 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019 was completed with funding provided by the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (RMP). This report is designed to be updated each year until completion of the study. At least one additional water year (2020) is underway. An earlier draft of this report was prepared for the Bay Area Stormwater Management Agencies Association (BASMAA) in support of materials submitted on or before March 31st 2020 in compliance with the Municipal Regional Stormwater Permit (MRP) Order No. R2-2015-0049.

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Davis, J.; Foley, M.; Askevold, R.; Buzby, N.; Chelsky, A.; Dusterhoff, S.; Gilbreath, A.; Lin, D.; Miller, E.; Senn, D.; et al. 2020. RMP Update 2020. SFEI Contribution No. 1008.

The overarching goal of the Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay (RMP) is to answer the highest priority scientific questions faced by managers of Bay water quality. The RMP is an innovative collaboration between the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, the regulated discharger community, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, and many other scientists and interested parties. The purpose of this document is to provide a concise overview of recent RMP activities and findings, and a look ahead to significant products anticipated in the next two years. The report includes a description of the management context that guides the Program; a brief summary of some of the most noteworthy findings of this multifaceted Program; and a summary of progress to date and future plans for addressing priority water quality topics.

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2019
Yee, D.; Gilbreath, A. N.; McKee, L. J. .; Davis, J. A. 2019. Conceptual Model to Support PCB Management and Monitoring in the San Leandro Bay Priority Margin Unit - Final Report. SFEI Contribution No. 928. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.

The goal of RMP PCB special studies over the next few years is to inform the review and possible revision of the PCB TMDL and the reissuance of the Municipal Regional Permit for Stormwater, both of which are tentatively scheduled to occur in 2020. Conceptual model development for a set of four representative priority margin units will provide a foundation for establishing an effective and efficient monitoring plan to track responses to load reductions, and will also help guide planning of management actions. The Emeryville Crescent was the first PMU to be studied in 2015-2016. The San Leandro Bay PMU is second (2016-2018), Steinberger Slough in San Carlos is third (2018), and Richmond Harbor will be fourth (2018-2019).

This document is Phase Three of a report on the conceptual model for San Leandro Bay. A Phase One report (Yee et al. 2017) presented analyses of watershed loading, initial retention, and long-term fate, including results of sediment sampling in 2016. A Phase Two data report (Davis et al. 2017) documented the methods, quality assurance, and all of the results of the 2016 field study. This Phase Three report is the final report that incorporates all of the results of the 2016 field study, and includes additional discussion of the potential influence of contaminated sites in the
watershed, the results of passive sampling by Stanford researchers and a comparative analysis of long-term fate in San Leandro Bay and the Emeryville Crescent, a section on bioaccumulation, and a concluding section with answers to the management questions that were the impetus for the work.

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Gilbreath, A.; McKee, L.; Shimabuku, I.; Lin, D.; Werbowski, L. M.; Zhu, X.; Grbic, J.; Rochman, C. 2019. Multi-year water quality performance and mass accumulation of PCBs, mercury, methylmercury, copper and microplastics in a bioretention rain garden. Journal of Sustainable Water in the Built Environment 5 (4) . SFEI Contribution No. 872.

A multiyear water quality performance study of a bioretention rain garden located along a major urban transit corridor east of San Francisco Bay was conducted to assess the efficacy of bioretention rain gardens to remove pollutants. Based on data collected in three years between 2012 and 2017, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and suspended sediment concentrations (SSCs) were reduced (>90%), whereas total mercury (Hg), methylmercury (MeHg), and copper (Cu) were moderately captured (37%, 49%, and 68% concentration reduction, respectively). Anthropogenic microparticles including microplastics were retained by the bioretention rain garden, decreasing in concentration from 1.6 particles/L to 0.16 particles/L. Based on subsampling at 50- and 150-mm intervals in soil cores from two areas of the unit, PCBs, Hg, and MeHg were all present at the highest concentrations in the upper 100 mm in the surface media layers. Based on residential screening concentrations, the surface media layer near the inlet would need to be removed and replaced annually, whereas the rest of the unit would need replacement every 8 years. The results of this study support the use of bioretention in the San Francisco Bay Area as one management option for meeting load reductions required by San Francisco Bay total maximum daily loads, and provide useful data for supporting decisions about media replacement and overall maintenance schedules.

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Gilbreath, A.; Hunt, J.; Mckee, L. 2019. Pollutants of Concern Reconnaissance Monitoring Progress Report, Water Years 2015-2018. SFEI Contribution No. 942. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.
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Sutton, R.; Lin, D.; Sedlak, M.; Box, C.; Gilbreath, A.; Holleman, R.; Miller, L.; Wong, A.; Munno, K.; Zhu, X.; et al. 2019. Understanding Microplastic Levels, Pathways, and Transport in the San Francisco Bay Region. SFEI Contribution No. 950. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.

Microplastics (particles less than 5 mm) are ubiquitous and persistent pollutants in the ocean and a pervasive and preventable threat to the health of marine ecosystems. Microplastics come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and plastic types, each with unique physical and chemical properties and toxicological impacts. Understanding the magnitude of the microplastics problem and determining the highest priorities for mitigation require accurate measures of microplastic occurrence in the environment and identification of likely sources.

To develop critical baseline data and inform solutions, the San Francisco Estuary Institute and the 5 Gyres Institute have completed the first comprehensive regional study of microplastic pollution in a major estuary. This project supported multiple scientific components to develop improved knowledge about and characterization of microparticles and microplastics in San Francisco Bay and adjacent National Marine Sanctuaries, with the following objectives:

  1. Contribute to the development and standardization of sample collection and analysis methodology for microplastic transportation research.
  2. Determine a baseline for future monitoring of microplastics in San Francisco Bay surface water, sediment, and fish, and in ocean waters outside the Golden Gate.
  3. Characterize pathways by which microplastics enter the Bay, including urban stormwater and treated wastewater effluent.
  4. Investigate the contribution of Bay microplastics to the adjacent National Marine Sanctuaries through computer simulations.
  5. Communicate findings to regional stakeholders and the general public through meetings and educational materials.
  6. Facilitate evaluation of policy options for San Francisco Bay, with recommendations on source reduction.

This document presents the findings of this three-year project. A companion document, “San Francisco Bay Microplastics Project: Science-Supported Solutions and Policy Recommendations,” has been developed by 5 Gyres using the findings of this study (Box and Cummins, 2019).

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2018
Gilbreath, A.; Pearce, S.; Shimabuku, I.; McKee, L. 2018. Bay Area Green Infrastructure Water Quality Synthesis. SFEI Contribution No. 922. San Francisco Estuary Institute : Richmond, CA.
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Gilbreath, A.; Wu, J.; Hunt, J.; McKee, L. 2018. Pollutants of Concern Reconnaissance Monitoring Water Years 2015, 2016, and 2017. SFEI Contribution No. 840. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.
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Wu, J.; Trowbridge, P.; Yee, D.; McKee, L.; Gilbreath, A. 2018. RMP Small Tributaries Loading Strategy: Modeling and Trends Strategy 2018. SFEI Contribution No. 886. San Francisco Estuary Institute : Richmond, CA.
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2015
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Gilbreath, A. N.; McKee, L. J. . 2015. Concentrations and loads of PCBs, dioxins, PAHs, PBDEs, OC pesticides and pyrethroids during storm and low flow conditions in a small urban semi-arid watershed. Science of the Total Environment 526, 251-261 . SFEI Contribution No. 650.

Urban runoff has been identified in water quality policy documents for San Francisco Bay as a large and potentially controllable source of pollutants. In response, concentrations of suspended sediments and a range of trace organic pollutants were intensively measured in dry weather and storm flow runoff from a 100% urban watershed. Flow in this highly urban watershed responded very quickly to rainfall and varied widely resulting in rapid changes of turbidity, suspended sediments and pollutant concentrations. Concentrations of each organic pollutant class were within similar ranges reported in other studies of urban runoff, however comparison was limited for several of the pollutants given information scarcity. Consistently among PCBs, PBDEs, and PAHs, the more hydrophobic congeners were transported in larger proportions during storm flows relative to low flows. Loads for Water Years 2007-2010 were estimated using regression with turbidity during the monitored months and a flow weighted mean concentration for unmonitored dry season months. More than 91% of the loads for every pollutant measured were transported during storm events, along with 87% of the total discharge. While this dataset fills an important local data gap for highly urban watersheds of San Francisco Bay, the methods, the uniqueness of the analyte list, and the resulting interpretations have applicability for managing pollutant loads in urban watersheds in other parts of the world.

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2014
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