Ezra Miller's picture

Ezra Miller, PhD

Senior Scientist
Clean Water Program
Bay Regional Monitoring Program
Contaminants of Emerging Concern
Fish Contamination

Dr. Ezra Miller leads the risk screening focus within the team of SFEI scientists investigating contaminants of emerging concern and microplastics in the San Francisco Bay and other regions of California. Ze studies the environmental fate and effects of a broad range of contaminants, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), flame retardants, current-use pesticides, microplastics, and rubber and plastic additives including tire contaminants, among others. Ze is particularly interested in using novel methods for contaminant identification, characterization, and monitoring prioritization to support management efforts and minimize impacts to aquatic ecosystems and human health. Dr. Miller received zir B.S. in Environmental Science and Chemistry from Warren Wilson College, and zir Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Dr. Miller's graduate research focused on plant uptake and accumulation of ionizable organic contaminants from treated wastewater, with an emphasis on contaminant mixture effects and rhizosphere interactions.

Related Projects, News, and Events

RMP Update (Project)

The Regional Monitoring Program for Water Quality in San Francisco Bay is an innovative collaboration of the San Francisco Bay Regional Water Quality Control Board, the regulated discharger community, and the San Francisco Estuary Institute. It provides water quality regulators with the information they need to manage the Bay effectively. The RMP produces two types of summary reports: The Pulse of the Bay and the RMP Update. The Pulse focuses on Bay water quality and summarizes information from all sources.

California Pesticides: A Data Visualization Tool to Link Pesticide Use and Management to Water Quality (Project)

Despite California's data-rich environment, there are still many obstacles when trying to access and understand pesticide data at the nexus of water quality, ecological effects, and human health. We recognize a need to fill data gaps, not necessarily by collecting new data, but by better leveraging information already technically in the public domain. The goal of this project is to bring pesticide reporting, occurrence, and toxicity data together in ways that yield insights and meet the expressed needs of stakeholders in clear, efficient, credible, and repeatable ways.

Perfluoroalkyl and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) (Project)

A recent analysis of PFAS in the surface waters of SF Bay was conducted to understand the occurrence, fate, and potential risks to ecological and human health. Eleven of 40 PFAS were detected at part per trillions (ppt) concentrations in ambient 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. Concentrations of PFAS in the Bay were generally consistent with similar studies globally for surface water. Sustained, multi-matrix monitoring of this important class of contaminants of emerging concern is a high priority for the RMP.

PFAS in San Francisco Bay Water (News)

Scientists with the San Francisco Bay Regional Monitoring Program (RMP) detected PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” at parts per trillion concentrations in the waters of the Bay. A recent report finds the contaminants present in Bay water including the well-studied PFOS and PFOA, as well as their replacements.

Forum on PFAS elevates the perspectives of local fishing communities (News)

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. 

RMP Journal Article: Targeted Monitoring of Organophosphate Esters and Bisphenols (News)

Organophosphate esters (OPEs) and bisphenols are two classes of mobile, endocrine-disrupting chemicals that are ubiquitously detected in environmental matrices due to high global production and use, particularly as plastic and polymer additives. SFEI scientists, led by Ila Shimabuku, and collaborators recently published a journal article describing a 2017 San Francisco Bay-wide Regional Monitoring Program study of 22 organophosphate esters and 16 bisphenols in open-Bay water samples. Concentrations were quantified and compared to protective ecotoxicity thresholds, where available, to assess potential risks to wildlife.

A Synthesis of Microplastic Sources and Pathways to Urban Runoff (News)

What do clothes dryers and car tires have in common? Both release microplastic pollution into the environment, according to a new investigation by scientists at the San Francisco Estuary Institute. 

Groundbreaking SFEI and 5 Gyres microplastics study featured in multiple media outlets (News)

Concurrent with a sold-out symposium on Oct 2nd, several media outlets, including the Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times, have released the articles relating the alarming findings regarding the pervasive presence of microplastics in our surface waters. The issue of microplastics is global in nature. However, the advances in understanding the magnitude of the problem are happening regionally through partnerships with 5 Gyres, the University of Toronto Trash Team, and other notable leaders.

Wired Magazine: A new report shows an astounding amount of microplastics, largely from car tires, are tainting the watershed (News)

Matt Simon from Wired Magazine writes:

San Francisco Bay, like Monterey Bay to its south, is a rare success story in ocean conservation. In the 1960s, three grassroots activists—Sylvia McLaughlin, Kay Kerr, and Esther Gulick—launched Save the Bay, which beat back developers trying to fill in parts of the iconic body of water.

The Guardian publishes on article on SFEI's microplastics study, further extending the report's reach (News)

Maanvi Singh from the US edition of the Guardian, based in the UK, writes, “It was basically everywhere we looked,” said Rebecca Sutton, an environmental scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, a local institution that led the three-year, $1.1m research effort.

2019 Symposium on San Francisco Microplastics (Event)

The San Francisco Estuary Institute and the 5 Gyres Institute have completed a first-of-its-kind, comprehensive regional study of microplastic pollution of a major urban estuary and adjacent ocean environment.