Feb 4, 2022

Known as “forever chemicals” due to their persistence in the environment, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are a broad class of fluorine-rich specialty chemicals. Thousands of different PFAS are registered for use in consumer, commercial and industrial applications. Increased use has led to the widespread presence of PFAS in our natural environment, including San Francisco Bay. PFAS are a high priority for action at federal, state, and local levels due to the well-documented toxic properties of key members of this class of contaminants. 

Recent sport fish monitoring conducted on behalf of the Bay’s Regional Monitoring Program showed concentrations of PFAS, particularly in South Bay fish, exceeding thresholds that have been established by other states for the development of consumption advisories to protect those eating fish. No human health or regulatory thresholds have yet been established for PFAS in San Francisco Bay fish.

Working with leaders from tribes and other impacted local fishing communities, the San Francisco Estuary Institute, Clean Water Action, and the California Indian Environmental Alliance organized a Virtual Forum on PFAS in San Francisco Bay Fish on February 4th, 2022. The Forum was held to highlight the disproportionate environmental impacts felt by disadvantaged minority communities who depend on Bay Area fish for subsistence and cultural purposes.

Members from local tribal, African American and Asian fishing communities were able to share community perspectives on PFAS exposure from Bay fish, alongside presentations from scientists and policy makers working on PFAS. The dialogue that began at this meeting is an important first step in working together to envision solutions to address this issue.

A meeting summary can be found here. Presentation slides, related materials, and an agenda can be found on the forum page.

This event was made possible thanks to funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Satterberg Foundation, and the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, with assistance from the Green Science Policy Institute and the Water Foundation. 

Additional studies of PFAS in San Francisco Bay can be found here. The RMP report on contaminants in sport fish is here.


Programs and Focus Areas: 
Clean Water Program
Contaminants of Emerging Concern
Fish Contamination