Mendez, M.; Trinh, M.; Miller, E.; Lin, D.; Sutton, R. 2022. PFAS in San Francisco Bay Water. SFEI Contribution No. 1094. San Francisco Estuary Institute: Richmond, CA.

Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a family of thousands of synthetic, fluorine-rich compounds commonly referred to as “forever chemicals,” are known for their thermal stability, non-reactivity, and surfactant properties. These unique compounds have widespread uses across consumer, commercial, and industrial products, resulting in widespread occurrence in the environment and wildlife across the globe. This study analyzed ambient surface water in San Francisco Bay for 40 PFAS to discern the occurrence, fate, and potential risks to ecological and human health.

Eleven of 40 PFAS were detected in ambient surface water collected in 2021 from 22 sites in the Bay. Seven PFAS (PFPeA, PFHxA, PFHpA, PFOA, PFBS, PFHxS, and PFOS), were found in at least 50% of samples. PFHxA and PFOA were the most frequently detected analytes (detection frequencies of 86% and 77%, respectively). PFPeA and PFHxA were generally found at the highest concentrations across sites, with median and maximum concentrations of 1.6 and 4.8 ng/L and 1.5 and 5.7 ng/L, respectively. Pairwise Spearman's correlations revealed strong positive correlations  (p <0.001; r > 0.77) among the seven PFAS detected in at least 50% of sites, suggesting significant similarities between their sources, pathways, and/or fate in the environment. PFBA, PFNA, PFDA, and 6:2 FTS were found at a limited number of sites in the Bay. 6:2 FTS was found at a single site at 14 ng/L, the highest concentration of any individual PFAS in the Bay. The sums of detected PFAS for all sites had median and maximum concentrations of 10 and 29 ng/L, respectively.

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