Pharmaceuticals, pesticides, and ultraviolet filters in wastewater discharges to San Francisco Bay as drivers of ecotoxicity. Environmental Pollution 336 . SFEI Contribution No. 1153.2023.
Research in the United States evaluating ecotoxic risk to receiving waters posed by contaminants occurring in wastewater discharges typically has focused on measurements of pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs), with limited evaluations of UV filters and phenylpyrazole and neonicotinoid pesticides. In this study, concentrations of 5 representative pharmaceuticals, 11 pesticides or pesticide degradation products, and 5 ultraviolet filters were measured in 24 h composite samples of six wastewater discharges representing ∼70% of the total wastewater discharged to San Francisco Bay during the summer and fall of 2021. No significant difference was observed between concentrations measured on weekdays vs. weekends. A hydrodynamic model of San Francisco Bay was used to estimate annual average dilution factors associated with different subembayments. With and without considering dilution effects, Risk Quotients were calculated using the 90th percentile of measured concentrations in wastewater effluents and threshold concentrations associated with ecotoxicity. Risk Quotients were highest for the neonicotinoid pesticide, imidacloprid, and exceeded ecotoxicity thresholds in the lower South Bay by a factor of 2.4, even when considering dilution. Compared to commonly measured pharmaceuticals, Risk Quotients for imidacloprid were higher than those for carbamazepine, trimethoprim and diclofenac, and comparable to those for propranolol and metoprolol. Risk Quotients for the pesticide, fipronil, and the UV filter, oxybenzone, were higher than for carbamazepine. The results highlight the need to incorporate pesticides and UV filters with high Risk Quotients into studies in the United States evaluating ecotoxic risk associated with contaminants in municipal wastewater discharges.