Suspect Screening and Chemical Profile Analysis of Storm-Water Runoff Following 2017 Wildfires in Northern California. Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry . SFEI Contribution No. 1089.2022.
The combustion of structures and household materials as well as firefighting during wildfires lead to releases of potentially hazardous chemicals directly into the landscape. Subsequent storm-water runoff events can transport wildfire-related contaminants to downstream receiving waters, where they may pose water quality concerns. To evaluate the environmental hazards of northern California fires on the types of contaminants in storm water discharging to San Francisco Bay and the coastal marine environment, we analyzed storm water collected after the northern California wildfires (October 2017) using a nontargeted analytical (NTA) approach. Liquid chromatography quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectrometric analysis was completed on storm-water samples (n = 20) collected from Napa County (impacted by the Atlas and Nuns fires), the city of Santa Rosa, and Sonoma County (Nuns and Tubbs fires) during storm events that occurred in November 2017 and January 2018. The NTA approach enabled us to establish profiles of contaminants based on peak intensities and chemical categories found in the storm-water samples and to prioritize significant chemicals within these profiles possibly attributed to the wildfire. The results demonstrated the presence of a wide range of contaminants in the storm water, including surfactants, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, and chemicals from consumer and personal care products. Homologs of polyethylene glycol were found to be the major contributor to the contaminants, followed by other widely used surfactants. Nonylphenol ethoxylates, typically used as surfactants, were detected and were much higher in samples collected after Storm Event 1 relative to Storm Event 2. The present study provides a comprehensive approach for examining wildfire-impacted storm-water contamination of related contaminants, of which we found many with potential ecological risk. Environ Toxicol Chem 2022;00:1–14. © 2022 SETAC